I have never been a peaceful sleeper. Most nights I sleep in fitful and erratic snatches of time, waking often. Sometimes I give up at 1 or 2 in the morning, slip out of bed, and sneak downstairs to read a book.

I could turn on the hallway lights, wake up my husband, and startle the dog. Instead, I prefer to creep through the house in the midnight dark, tiptoeing down the stairs and through the silent shadows, imagining all the scary things that haunt us about dark houses.

My midnight walks are a form of test, a way to force myself to face my fear.

Each time I arrive downstairs and snap on the lamp, I find my safe and familiar living room, the same comfy sofa, the dog toys scattered on the floor. Every time I reach my destination, I remember that all I imagine could be lurking in the dark is not the reality I see when I fill the room with light.

So it is with all our fears. Often, the problems that we imagine, the shadows that scare us, will no longer exist when we arrive and turn on God’s light. When we confront our fears directly, they lose their power to influence our decisions and will no longer keep us frozen in the dark.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” 2 Timothy 1:7.

Today I encourage you to directly face one fear that has been holding you back: descending the dark and mysterious midnight stairs, tackling an ambitious job interview, risking a new and promising relationship, or moving on to some new adventure. I challenge you to take any step into strange and unknown territory where shadows linger and shroud the path ahead. I pray you see that when we shine the light on what we fear, what we discover is often safe and comfortable after all.

What fear can you challenge yourself to face today? How do you feel when you bring light to a dark situation?

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Months ago I planted this scrubby shrub in a pot on my patio. What grew up from the soil is this towering, thick-stemmed mystery, which we’ve named “The Beanstalk.” It has wide and round, velvety leaves, dainty yellow flowers, and round green fruit that has yet to mature. I suspect my neighborhood squirrel left behind a forgotten seed; but I have no idea what it is, and I won’t know until the fruit reveals itself. Meanwhile, I faithfully tend the growing plant. I wait and water, watch and wonder, eagerly anticipating the day the fruit will ripen.

A life of faith is like this flowerpot. We never know what will grow from the seeds we have planted. We take an action, make a decision, or join a conversation with no way of knowing what will develop from our efforts or what the conclusion will be. Often we begin a season looking forward to one outcome, only to discover something completely unexpected growing in its place. We may be surprised by what we harvest at the end of a growing season, but God always knows the potential that lies beneath the surface.

 “So you do not know the works of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, Either this or that, Or whether both alike will be good” (Ecclesiastes 11:5-6).

While we wait to see what blooms, our purpose is to faithfully tend the garden we have started. We continue to nurture relationships, take actions, serve others, and pray constantly. We can eagerly anticipate the day we see what blossoms from our efforts, and we can be confident that when God gives the increase, whatever grows will be good.

This season, I pray you are faithfully tending the seeds you have planted. Know that your work will be rewarded with a rich and bountiful harvest.

What are you hoping will grow in this season? How do you know God will give the increase?

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I’ve survived 48 years on this earth, and I’ve learned many lessons during that time. Today I’m sharing some of the wisdom I’ve gathered.

Find something to be grateful for every day.

Be honest with yourself. You and God both know the truth.

Keep trying.

Keep praying.

Take care of your teeth.

Appreciate time with your children when they are small. You will miss their sticky hands someday.

Everyone has a story to tell, and every story has meaning.

Don’t sabotage yourself with impatience.

You are loved. God does notice and care.

You can’t reason with unreasonable people.

Toxic people are not worth your time and effort. Shake the dust off your feet and move on.

Have your car’s oil changed regularly.

Listen more than you talk.

Pray more than you worry.

Forgiveness is a process. Honor your own process and acknowledge your true feelings.

Show up every day and work hard.

Pay attention. The best moments often happen when we are focused somewhere else.

Life is not fair. Some people seem to have it easy, and some have more than their share of struggle.

But everyone has some troubles, and I wouldn’t really want to trade mine for anyone else’s.

Do the best you can in whatever circumstances God has given you.

Believe God knows what He’s doing in every situation.

Everything works together for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28).

Always be willing to learn something new.

Always be willing to encourage someone else.

It is easier to clean the house a little every day than face a big mess on the weekend.

That goes for life too. Deal with small issues before they become big problems.

Take off your sunglasses before innertubing on the lake.

Turn off your phone and talk to your children when they come home from school.

Be happy to see them when you’ve been apart a while.

All people want to be seen, acknowledged, and heard.

On a long hike, a slow and steady pace will get you there. Keep walking.

You will grow and learn as long as you live, so be patient and go easy on yourself.

Walk more.

Read more.

Eat more vegetables.

Friendships are fluid. Some people will come and go throughout our lives.

But the right people will always be there when you need them.

You are wise.

You are capable.

You will fulfill the purpose God has planned for you.

Do the most difficult part first and the rest will seem easy.

Whenever possible, invest in quality shoes. Don’t waste money on shoes that don’t support you.

Whenever possible, invest in quality people and relationships. Don’t waste time on people who don’t support you.

Be at peace today.

Look forward to tomorrow.

Have faith for the future.

Remember God is with you always.

Say thank you, be happy, and know you are blessed.

What have you learned in the years of your life?

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