Road closed ahead, the gps told us. Follow directions for detour. Expect delays.

We pulled off the highway at the exit, following the signs and the line of cars along a winding, narrow country road, past quiet houses on the outskirts of nowhere. The trail of traffic crept slowly, a line of red tail lights stretching into the distance. We often sat motionless, idling in grid lock, wedged between rumbling engines with no end in sight. 

Inside our car, patience wore thin. We moaned and muttered about the injustice of this delay to the start of our vacation.

“By the time we get out of this, the week will be over.”

“We’ll have to turn around and go home.”

But as we waited behind a smoking diesel semi-trailer, it occurred to me that I didn’t know the reason for our forced delay, but God did. I considered that an accident may have closed that stretch of highway, or a construction team was working to make the road smoother for others. I began to appreciate that God had rerouted us along scenic country roads where the sun set behind distant hills. I gave thanks that our detour carried us around a scene of potential danger and got us moving again in the right direction. Despite arriving at our hotel three hours later than we anticipated, tired and irritated from the long delay, I felt grateful that we were safe and able to continue on our travels.

We are often forced to take detours in our lives. Trips don’t always go as planned. Routes change. Unexpected events make demands on our time, and unforeseen obstacles block our paths.

Too often we focus on our desired destinations. We fret about schedules and estimated times of arrival. We grumble and complain about where we want to be, when we should instead give thanks and appreciate whatever road we are traveling.

Today I pray you are grateful for the detour you are facing. Know there is a reason you are exploring that winding, twisting route along a road you may not have expected to see. Remember that God is leading you safely around any barriers that block your way, and He will put you on the correct path to your destination.

Where is your road taking you today? How do you show gratitude for the delays in your journey?

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Every New Year celebration means I’ve grown another year older and wiser. Here are a few thoughts I wish I could share with my younger self.  

Everything is going to be okay. No situation lasts forever, and many problems resolve themselves in time. Life does get better.

You deserve good things. No one deserves bad treatment, and you don’t have to tolerate abuse. Believe you should receive better and expect more from your life.

Trust your gut. When you feel uncomfortable or uneasy about a person or a situation, God is telling you to be careful. Listen to your spirit and know God is speaking to your heart.

When it’s time to go, move on. Too often we waste time clinging to roles or relationships that no longer serve our spirits or contribute to our growth. When you feel you’ve outgrown a station or a season, God may be prompting you to make a change and begin a new path.  

Everyone has their own problems. In our current culture, we often see only the surface of others’ lives, and everyone seems to be having more fun than we are. The truth is that everyone has experienced pain, and everyone needs compassion and understanding for whatever they are going through.  

Never “go along to get along.” Too many of us were taught to compromise our hearts and sacrifice our values in order to make others happy. If you are grimly tolerating a situation you know is wrong, either work to change it or accept it is not the right place for you.

Good relationships are built. The best relationships, friendships, and marriages don’t just happen. They require investments of commitment, work, time, and effort to make them successful.

Each person is responsible for his or her choices. We can’t blame others for our mistakes or bad behavior. We choose our actions and the people we want to become.

Reconsider your spending. All the material possessions we buy can’t really bring happiness.  All the clothes, shoes, jewelry, and books we purchase eventually became outgrown or outdated and get thrown away. Think carefully about how you spend your resources.

Invest in experience. The real reward of life is meaningful time shared with people who care. Don’t waste your time and money on things or people that don’t bring joy and value to your life. Focus on the positive and share your experience with people who strengthen and encourage you.

This New Year, I’m looking forward to a time of phenomenal productivity and change. I’m continuing to learn every day, and I’m excited about the lessons that wait in the days ahead.

What advice would you give a younger you? What are you looking forward to learning in 2019?

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I have not always felt excited about the arrival of winter. Each year when cold weather began, I feared the extra expenses, the gifts I had to buy, and the contributions I was expected to make. I worried about the weather and the way life grew more complicated. I resented the increased demands on my time, the shopping I was expected to do, and the events I was obligated to attend.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to appreciate the special blessings of winter: the weekend nights making popcorn, snuggling under blankets, and watching old movies. I value the extra time devoted to spending with family, friends, and the people important to me.  

I have learned that I choose how I approach the winter season and what Christmas means to me. I decide where to spend my time and money, and I will invest my resources in the ways that bring me the most reward.

I choose how many gifts to buy, whom to buy for, and how much to spend. I refuse to enter any mall or store where I will fight with crowds and stand in line with other tired and frustrated customers. I choose to do my shopping early and then relax as the holiday approaches.

I choose how I will spend my time and the people who will share it. I am free to politely decline invitations to events and activities. This year I RSVP’d “Not this time” to a very important evening, because I plan to spend that time with my mentee, eating pizza and chatting at my dining room table.

As I get older, I find it more important to choose a peaceful and reflective winter and holiday season. I prefer to relax into the deep silence of winter nights – the time of serious thought and contemplation. I choose winter as my time to wrap in warm quilts on the couch, watching A Christmas Story for the hundredth time. I spend my winter evenings appreciating and enjoying the company of the people I care for most, preparing for the change and renewal of the year to come.

This year I encourage you to enjoy the winter months as a time to consider and plan, discuss and dream. I hope you make winter and Christmas the time of rest they were intended to be. I pray you enjoy a peaceful and comforting winter and holiday season.

How have you changed your approach to winter and Christmas? What are you looking forward to this season?

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So many people I know could use a prayer today. For anyone who needs it, I offer this:

I pray you are confident.

“In returning and rest you shall be saved. In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).

Feel certain that you are important to God and he has you in his care.

I pray you are trusting.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Know that God has a plan for you and you can believe in him to complete it.

I pray you feel peace.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ” (Philippians 4:7).

May God give you quietness and rest on your anxious and busy days.

I pray you find strength.

“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might he increases strength” (Isaiah 40:29).

May you feel him give you power to persevere and succeed.

I pray you experience joy.

“Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).

May you be blessed with great happiness, today and always.

Please share a prayer with someone you know. I pray you are richly blessed each day.

What is your prayer this morning? What are you asking from God today?Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

I love fall – cozy-cool weather, comfort food, quilts and sweaters, flannel pajamas. Fall is a time of turning inward, spending those quiet evenings at home feeling content and thoughtful.

Fall is also the time to prepare for the winter months ahead.

When I was a single mom, life became more complicated in winter. Cars wouldn’t start. Snow drifted over driveways. Getting up in the morning to go to work or school felt more difficult and treacherous. But over the years, I learned there were a few things I could do to prepare for the approaching winter.

I got my car’s oil changed, rotated the tires, had the battery and fluids checked. I provided the best maintenance I could to ensure my car would start on that first cold morning.

I stocked the car with shovel, blankets, ice melt, a phone charger; just in case it didn’t start somewhere and I had to wait a while for a tow truck to arrive.

I put away toys from the yard and chairs from the patio before they became covered in the first unexpected snowfall of the season.

I stocked my kitchen with storable food: peanut butter and crackers, macaroni and cheese, frozen pizzas and powdered milk; because after skidding home from work through a snow storm, I didn’t want to have to go back out to buy groceries for dinner. I tried to always keep extra food in my home for those nights I didn’t want to venture out into the cold.

Likewise, I stored up soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent, extra boxes of tissues, cough medicine, and children’s fever reducer; because in bitterly cold conditions, I didn’t want to have to drag a sick child to the pharmacy to buy cough medicine.

I tried to buy my daughter’s winter coats, snow pants and boots (in a size too large) on sale the previous spring. Then in the fall, all I had to do was pull winter clothes, hats, and gloves out of storage bins.

I squirreled away entertainment for cozy nights at home: books, magazines, movies, puzzles, coloring books. I reminded myself that winter is the time to enjoy and appreciate spending quiet evenings around the table together.

I love the quiet comforts of fall: early sunsets, time to read and talk, time to consider the present and contemplate the future. Fall is the season to prepare for months of winter rest before the happy new activity of spring.

What do you do to prepare for each season? What can you do this fall to prepare for the coming winter?Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail