Tag Archives: encouragement

“Use This”

Give your burdens to the Lord,
and he will take care of you.
He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.
Psalm 55:22, NLT*

Attitude. Heaviness of spirit. Frustration. Sadness. Some days I struggle with these things. They rise up, make it hard to live a life worthy of the gospel. Even minor situations amplify them, and I don’t want to have a meltdown or snap at (or cry on) the people around me.

Then there are the bigger situations—actual crises—health, obstacles, bad news. External things I can’t do anything about to help the people in pain or to salvage whatever plans have been overturned.

God is teaching me to pray Use this—to give these burdens to Him, repeatedly, with the plea that He will use even these to reveal His glory.

The Bible, and the personal stories of believers through the centuries, prove God can do this. Instead of rolling over and giving up in these experiences, we need to keep our eyes on the King and look in faith to see what He will do.

God, we know and believe there is none like You, none more powerful, wise or loving. We believe Your promise to sustain and care for us. You can do more than we can ever imagine. Help us trust You to use every aspect of our lives for Your glory. Let us not hold back or give up, but strengthen our faith so we can stand.

Here’s a faith-encouraging song from Kutless: “What Faith Can Do.

*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.


When Life Piles Up Around Us

I cry out to God Most High,
to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.
Psalm 57:2, NLT*

In my life, this verse gives me hope. God hasn’t revealed a great purpose for me, like He did for David the shepherd boy to become king. Nonetheless, God has plans for my life—and for yours.

We’re each to live for His glory, and therefore it’s reasonable to pray that He be glorified through our lives and in (or despite) our circumstances.

I have a family. His purpose there? That I love, care for and support them.

A home? That requires care too.

A gift to write? I need to use it God’s way.

When you look at what He’s given you, does it feel overwhelming? Like there’s more to do than time to do it? Sometimes the pressures pile up and threaten an avalanche.

But God will fulfill His purpose despite the opposition—be it Saul’s soldiers chasing David, or my crowded schedule. Like David, I need to trust and pray—and act as led—not to cower, whimper and give up.

God who holds our time in Your hands, give us faith to believe Your promise to never leave us and to fulfill Your purpose for us. Grant us wisdom in how to spend our days and meet our responsibilities. Help us obey Your leading instead of going our own ways. Help us to focus and to serve You in all we do.

Peter Furler’s song, “Greater is He,” is a good encouragement song for those times we feel overwhelmed.

*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.

What’s in the Heart

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
Matthew 12:34b, NKJV*

Other translations essentially say, “what’s in the heart is what comes out.” I like the imagery of abundance here, because we have good and bad and all manner of in-between things in our hearts.

As Christians, we work on guarding what comes out of our mouths. We’ve read the passages in James about controlling our tongues, and we understand the danger of harsh or inappropriate words.

Choosing our words with care isn’t about hypocrisy or pretending to be perfect. We’re saved, but we’re still being saved. Still in the process of being cleaned up. It’s a lifetime job that only God would ever dream of tackling.

If the pressure’s on, or if we’re tired or distracted, sometimes we slip. When we do, it reveals what’s inside.

  • Nothing ever goes my way.
  • Why should anything good happen, anyway?
  • I knew it was too good to be true.
  • I should have known it wouldn’t work out.

Ever said—or thought—anything like that? I have, and I’m learning that it reveals things I don’t want in my heart: doubt, lack of faith, negativity, discontent, a complaining attitude… and at the very root, a suspicion that God isn’t such a good Shepherd after all.

Nothing I’d espouse under ordinary circumstances, but when push comes to shove, the thoughts are there. Clamping my lips shut saves others from hearing it, but Jesus is right. It’s a heart matter.

We don’t have to believe the lies, the fear and the negatives. We can choose to believe God’s promises and rely on His love. But it takes work. It takes catching these unwanted thoughts and replacing them with truth. In New Testament language, it takes putting on the armour of God: especially the shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit and belt of truth to hold the breastplate in place.

And it takes speaking God’s truth aloud to replace the negatives we’ve whispered so long.

God our loving Father, You see our hearts and yet You work to save us. We rely on Your promise to forgive us when we confess, and to make a way for us to escape temptation’s power. Grant us faith to truly rely on You, to fully believe Your love and Your care, to live in such a way that others will see we do indeed have a Good Shepherd.

TobyMac‘s song, “Speak Life,” calls us to use our words for good for others, but I think speaking life is also good for our own faith. Enjoy.

*New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 byThomas Nelson, Inc.


Light in the Tunnel

Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Psalm 23:4-5 NIV*

I’ve always thought of Psalm 23 as a progression. There are the green pastures, the quiet waters, the paths of righteousness, the dark valley, then the feasting.

But I wonder… many translations broaden the KJV’s “valley of the shadow of death” to be a dark valley of any kind, where we may be in danger or may just be slogging and struggling.

Isn’t that where the enemies are? Not when we come out the other side, but in that valley? Where the Shepherd keeps His staff handy to protect us?

When the going is hard and we’re desperate for a light at the end of the valley-tunnel, remember that our Shepherd—the Light of the world—is with us.

Sooner or later we’ll glimpse the end. We’ll even reach it. But even now, when we despair of going on, here in the presence of our enemies—illness, grief, negativity, fear, family, work, whatever valley we’re in—maybe our Shepherd is setting a table for us. Maybe He’s whispering, “Sit for a minute and eat. Rest and catch your breath. I AM here.”

Jesus, our gentle but strong Shepherd, remind us of Your presence in the light and in the dark. Help us rely on Your love and care. You know our needs. Help us trust You to meet them. Even in the valleys, with enemies all around.

May Casting Crowns‘ song, “I Know You’re There,” be our prayer 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.

Review: Do Life Different, by Jill Hart

Do Life Different, by Jill HartDo Life Different, by Jill Hart (Choose NOW Publishing, 2014)

Do Life Different is written for Christian work-at-home moms, and much of the content is also applicable to Christian moms whose at-home work is parenting and homemaking. The book’s subtitle is Inspiring Work-at-home Moms to Powerful Living in Work, Family and Faith.

As a writer, I count as working from home, and although my youngest child is a teen I find the household responsibilities themselves require more “parenting” than I seem able to give. This book addresses a strongly-felt need for me, so I bumped it to the top of my review pile, read it in one night, and will go back through it again at a more sedate pace.

Topics include overcoming fear and worry, making wise decisions, business as ministry, enjoying your work, and “is success okay?”.

Three insights are already making a difference for me:

  1. since God’s mercies are new every day, we can greet the morning with a hope-filled sense of starting over;
  2. we are each the best one for the job to which God called us (I count parenting in this as well as whatever business one might run);
  3. we are leaders, by definition as workers and as mothers—accepting this allows us to lead intentionally instead of wasting opportunities.

There are plenty more nuggets in this collection of 52 devotionals. Each entry offers a Bible verse, a one- to two-page insight, and a thought-provoking “Doing it different” question on how readers can apply the day’s lesson in their lives.

Each has a corresponding video devotional on the author’s website. [Note: if you’re reading the print version, or if you’re reading the ebook on a device that doesn’t support Flash videos, you can view the devotions on your computer. The web address is in the front of the book.]

There are free 6-week or 12-week study guides for women who want to work through the material as a group. To download the study guides, visit Choose NOW Publishing (scroll down to the cover images for the two study guides, then click the one you want).

Writer, speaker and coach Jill Hart is the founder of Christian Work at Home Ministries, where you’ll find a wealth of resources on finding a job, starting or growing a business, balancing life, and knowing God better. To read a sample chapter of Do Life Different, visit Jill Hart or Choose Now Publishing. Or watch Jill’s video intro below:

[Review copy provided by the publisher.]

When God Says “I’ve Got This”

I’m guest blogger this week at author Christine Lindsay’s site, sharing one of my key life-lessons from 2013: When God Says “I’ve Got This”. Click over and say hello!

What Holds You Together?

The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.
Hebrews 1:3, NLT*

Jesus sustains everything. He holds it all together: atoms and solar systems, swirling in their created dance. He draws it out, lets it continue and resonate like a lasting chord played on a piano.

When life feels like it’s spinning out of control—or when I feel like I am—this promise is my anchor. We might not like what’s going on, maybe can’t see any sense or any good in it, but it doesn’t have to break us.

We are held. Together.

When we want to quit, the choice is ours. But if we choose to pray for help, to stand and trust God to sustain us, we will see Him at work.

Majestic and glorious God, You made heaven and earth and still you choose to care for us. You sustain and nurture us and draw us into relationships with Yourself so we can thrive. When chaos makes us doubt, help our unbelief. Strengthen our faith and help us choose to rely on You. Thank You for Your promise to never fail or abandon us.

I love this song from the band Fee about God’s sustaining power: “Arms that Hold the Universe.”

*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.


Pushing Through, by Jennifer Maggio

Today we have another guest post, from award-winning author/speaker Jennifer Maggio. Jennifer has a passion for single moms. I’ll let her tell you more. Read to the end to see how you can win a free ebook:

Pushing Through

by Jennifer Maggio

Fifteen years ago, I found myself curled in a ball in the middle of my cold, bathroom floor, crying hysterically. I was convinced that no one could possibly understand the depths of my pain. When would this misery end? I was broken. I had no money, few friends, and no hope. How was I going to raise these children alone for 18 years? How could I make it financially? Would my circumstances every change?

That is my story – the story of a lonely single mom, living on government assistance, running from God, and feeling I couldn’t push through. The next several years brought a winding road of highs and lows, victories and defeats. But I did push through. I made it through those early years of parenting alone. Although I hadn’t been in years, I became involved in my local church, rededicated my life to the Lord, and slowly began the journey of digging myself out of a financial and emotional hole. My heart found rest. I leaned on the Lord, when everyone else had failed me. And I never forgot what it was like to be that lonely, overwhelmed single mom.

Peace and the Single Mom, by Jennifer Maggio

My new book, Peace and the Single Mom: 50 Moments of Calm in the Chaos, exists to walk another single mother through the certain loneliness she has felt, but also to guide her to God’s faithfulness, to wholeness, to humor, and ultimately, to peace. It was written as my “thank you” for all God has done in my own life. It was written as my encouragement to that mom who feels no one understands.

Single moms don’t need just another sermon preached at them. They don’t need another book that makes them feel they are light years away from being a good Proverbs 31 woman! They want to hear about God’s grace, His faithfulness, His unconditional love. They want to learn to laugh again. My hope is that Peace and the Single Mom does just that!

Picture Peace and the Single Mom as your girl-time with me, as we sit in your living room, sipping coffee, with our feet on the furniture.

[Janet’s note: Jennifer has graciously offered a free e-copy of Peace and the Single Mom to one of you… leave a comment, and I’ll draw a name on December 14.]

◊ ◊ ◊

Jennifer MaggioJennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker whose personal journey through homelessness, severe abuse, and single parenting leaves audiences riveted. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and Overwhelmed: The Single Moms Magazine. For more info, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.

Review: 30 Days: A Devotional Memoir, by D. M. Webb

30 Days: A Devotional Memoir30 Days: A Devotional Memoir, by D. M. Webb (Ambassador International, 2013)

Spiritual growth and change often spring from the everyday moments. In 30 Days, D. M. Webb shares through Scripture and anecdotes how God met and cared for her in a 3-year stretch of trials and turmoil. 30 Days is a transparent look at one woman’s life lessons that will encourage and challenge readers in their own lives.

This is a memoir devotional, but it’s not the conventional “life story” autobiography type. These are memoir snippets, each focused to the theme of the particular day’s selection.

Although our life experiences have been very different, D. M. Webb’s devotional memoir connected with me in several places. We both value the book The Search for Significance, by Robert McGee. We both believe that “prayer is the strongest medium there is.” (Kindle location 76)

The lesson that stood out most to me was that it’s okay to ask God “why?” in the hard times – it’s not lack of faith, nor is it demanding and ungrateful. D. M. Webb helped me understand that there’s a way to ask in trust, and that the asking opens us to understand what God wants to teach us in our circumstances.

My favourite line:

My prayers are for those lost in the dark to realize that the Light is nothing to be scared of. (Kindle location 229)

I love how 30 Days ends with two stories passed on from the author’s mother. The stories in this book – and our own personal experiences with the God Who Cares – have value. They need to be shared with our peers and with the generation to come.

30 Days is available in ebook and paper. D. M. Webb (Daphne Self) is also the author of Mississippi Nights. She blogs at Rebel Book Reviews.

[Review copy provided by the author.]

Shocking the World with Generosity, by Dineen Miller

Today we have a guest post from award-winning author Dineen Miller. Read on to be encouraged and challenged. Dineen has graciously offered a copy of the new book she co-authored with Lynn Donovan, Not Alone, to one of our readers in Canada or the US. To enter, please leave us a comment. Draw closes midnight, Nov. 29.

Shocking the World with Generosity

by Dineen Miller

NotAloneImage2I stood on the knoll of a grassy field, watching my youngest daughter, Leslie, then only five years old, as she kicked off her shoes at the starting line. No shoes? How would her little feet grip the grass and propel her forward? Several of the other children in her age group had done the same thing, so I resisted the urge to run over and make her put her shoes back on.

We’d moved to Switzerland in the spring and had spent the summer adjusting to our new surroundings before school started, thus immersing my girls into a culture and language they’d just barely begun to grasp. Today’s event was a big part of kicking off the new school year. I watched Leslie stand there, looking around at the other children so eager to start and win this race. The prize? A round ornately stitched patch declaring the bearer winner of the race for their age group.

Did she even stand a chance?

The starter shouted the Swiss version of “get set, ready, go!” and off went this group of five and six year olds, sprinting down a grassy field. Little legs pumped madly and arms swung back and forth. Seemed like minutes instead of seconds passed as the fastest runners pulled away, and to my amazement my daughter was one of them.

I think my mouth about fell open as my daughter took the lead and won!

Full of pride for my girl, I waited until she’d followed protocol to receive her award and came running toward me. One of her new friends trailed behind her and as my daughter hugged me, I could see her friend was struggling not to cry.

Leslie had noticed too and turned to face her. She held out her new prize to her friend, whose eyes grew almost as big as the patch Leslie held. The little girl looked at me as if to ask, is this okay? My same question—I’d watched Leslie work so hard for this prize, yet there she stood, ready to give it way.

So I asked Leslie, “Are you sure you want to part with that?” I think I was the one struggling with parting with it, not her.

“Yes, mommy. I want her to have it.”

Her friend took the patch and threw her arms around Leslie. The two skipped off together to play. My pride in my daughter grew even larger.

I think at times our children know how to be more generous than we do. I’ve watched my daughter grow into a generous teenager who was always quick to give away what she had and spend her allowance on her sister or her friends before buying herself anything. My biggest challenge as her mother—to let her. To support her in her generosity, even when she gave away a Visa gift card she’d received for her birthday to a homeless person. As I had asked at that race so many years ago, I asked again, “Are you sure?” She said the joy of giving the card away was better than anything she could have bought.

Some kids just get this, others need to be taught. Either way, we as parents have a wonderful opportunity to help our children grow into generous teenagers and adults who shock the world with their generosity. Just as Jesus came into this world and continues to shock us with His.

Along with Jesus, my daughter has become my teacher and inspiration to give more of my resources, my love and my time. I love watching her shock the world with her generosity.


Not Alone - Lynn Donovan and Dineen MillerIn Not Alone, you’ll find encouragement and inspiration from Scripture and true-life stories from other spiritually mismatched moms. Plus, find practical tips for capturing teachable moments with eternity in mind, and discovery questions to help you grow as a parent.

This is a parenting book, but it’s much more. It’s a love letter to all mothers—a message that changes our homes, our kids and our lives. It’s about the Father’s love that impacts those around us and changes ordinary moms into women of extraordinary grace, beauty and wisdom.

You may sometimes feel you’re on your own when it comes to godly parenting, but Jesus promised to be with you always. You’re not alone!


Dineen MillerDineen Miller is passionate about God’s Word and truth. She’s been featured on the Moody Radio Network, Focus on the Family, Dr. James Dobson’s FamilyTalk and FamilyLife Today. Dineen lives in the Bay Area with her family and is the coauthor of the award winning book, Winning Him Without Words and author of the ACFW Carol Award winning book, The Soul Saver. Visit Dineen online at MismatchedandThriving.com.