Praising God When You’re Worried by Bridget A. Thomas

Do you make praising God a priority in your life? I confess I didn’t know the importance of praising God until 2020. When we went through the pandemic, and the world seemed to fall apart, there were two things that truly changed me. One was reading the Psalms, and the other was praising God. I learned the truth of the words found in Psalm 89:25, “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, LORD.”

I bet it is more common to praise God when something good has happened. We rejoice when we accomplish a goal or when we obtain something we had hoped for. We are happy when a blessing comes into our lives or when we see an answer to prayer.

But one thing I have found to be helpful is to praise God before the blessing. If I am worried about something or someone, it can be easy to fall into a pit of anxious thoughts. But many times I know deep down that my thoughts and feelings are misconstruing reality. I know that with God, I have nothing to fear.

So instead of praying desperate prayers, asking for divine intervention in a certain situation, sometimes I will instead praise God. I will thank Him ahead of time for His help. I will sing words of His goodness. I will tell the Lord how marvelous He is.

When we do this, miracles take place. First of all, our feelings will catch up to our words. We might have felt anxious before. But now, focusing on God’s goodness, we will truly feel gratitude and awe for our amazing Father.

And we see how God truly does come through for us. When I have done this, the situations I was worried about turned out okay and sometimes even better than expected. God intervened and made a smooth path.

Also, anytime we praise God, we draw closer to Him. We feel a deep connection and know that we are in the palm of His hand. And there is no better place to be. So no matter what you are facing today, try praising God. He hears you and will be there with you, holding onto you.

© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

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Still Good by Julie Arduini

I have a team that prays for my writing and I can’t describe how much they mean to me. They have covered me, my family, and the words I write (or don’t) for over a decade.

Recently I shared an update and someone reflected on my year and health struggles.

-Two scopes because of stomach issues

-Needed to buy a cane after vacation because I emotionally froze to the point I could not walk.

-Had bronchitis most of August and was too weak to take my daughter to school for a week.

Add it’s been a year since mom asked me to come to town to help her for a couple days and I ended up staying two months because we nearly lost her. Sadly, in January as she was recovering so well, she passed.

It’s been stressful, and I’m pretty sure all the health issues go right back to the trauma and grief.

Yet, as I prayed, there was a theme.

God is good.

Our family is in good health despite the pandemic. My husband isn’t just working, but has a new position he loves. We are being provided for. Our son graduated college and passed his certification exam. He’s engaged and ready to start substitute teaching. Our daughter turned eighteen and is a senior in high school seeking God’s will. I serve in a youth group where these teens are thrown the most impossible situations, and they keep showing up, trusting Jesus. We have grown children and four grandchildren that are healthy and doing well.

I never want to take His goodness for granted. No matter what I read or hear in the news, and boy lately it’s been heartbreaking, He is still good. I might not understand it all, but I know enough about Jesus to know He is good. It is Him.

When the bronchitis was so bad I couldn’t leave bed and my chest was so tight it was hard to breathe, I remember just saying thank you to Jesus.

I don’t know how the rest of the year will go. I feel like I’ve rounded a corner in grief and better times are ahead. Still, no matter what I face, I want to keep in the forefront God’s goodness.

How about you? What are you going through? Have you been able to praise God through it? I challenge you to be thankful. It might take some thought, but trust me, there is always something to be thankful for. Even if you only can realize God is good, that’s enough!

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Never Forget by Tara Randel

This weekend I watched many of the ceremonies commemorating the events of September 11, 2001. I think about where I was that day and how the tragedy affected me not only on a personal level, but as an American.

I had just dropped my daughters off at school when I arrived home to hear the telephone ringing. Normally, I didn’t turn on the television in the morning because I enjoyed the quiet after the hustle of getting the girls ready and off to school. I answered and a friend told me to turn on the tv because something was happening in New York. Sure enough, I tuned in see that the North Tower at the World Trade Center had been hit. After that, I sat for hours shocked, confused and at times not even able to put a name to the emotion as I watched the destruction in lower Manhattan, the Pentagon and Flight 93. It was all a jumble, but most of the news focused on the towers. Then, when the South Tower fell, I looked at the tv, tilting my head, thinking, wait, what’s happening? It soon became clear the building had crumbled. When the second tower fell, I cried with such a deep, guttural anguish that I have only experienced one other time since, when my daughter died eleven years later. I prayed and wept for the poor souls in the buildings, for the first responders who had gone into the buildings and for those affected on the ground. It was hard to tell what was going on, but there was only one word to define that day; horror.

I had published a few books with a New York publishing house and worried about the safety of the employees. Thankfully they weren’t near the towers and I later learned they were able to get home, as the city was in shock.

In the weeks and months that followed, we learned about the bravery that had cost and saved lives. We were more gentle to our neighbors. Those of us so far away from the tragedies were thankful we hadn’t experienced the attacks, but our hearts broke for those who did.  It was a time to count your blessings and make sure we supported a country that would never allow anything like this to happen again.

At the time, I facilitated a creative writing class at my oldest daughter’s middle school. Every time they had to write a story, it would be about defending the United States. Every single story. Out of those classes, two brothers went into the military, one still serving. My daughter and her best friend also decided to join. I’ll never forget the night my daughter came into our bedroom to inform us she was enlisting. I was surprised, since she had never expressed any interest in that career route. But how could I argue against this decision when she said, “It’s the least I can do.” The events of 9/11 had touched her more deeply than I knew. She would have finished her time in the military with honor had cancer not taken her life. I am still so proud that she looked beyond herself and wanted to serve others.

Every year on September 11, no matter what is going on in my life, I stop and watch documentaries about that day. It still horrifies me and makes me cry. It makes me glad to live in a country where virtual strangers helped one another in the time of a calamity. It reminds me that I am blessed to live in this country where I can freely worship God. I can’t believe it’s been twenty years. When I watch the programs, is feels like yesterday. Every person who remembers that day has a story about where they were, what they were doing and how they felt afterwards. Thank you for letting me share a slice of my story.

Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author. Family values, a bit of mystery and of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Look for her Harlequin Heartwarming romance, STEALING HER BEST FRIEND’S HEART, available now. For more information about her books, visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TaraRandelBooks. Sign up for Tara’s Newsletter and receive a link to download a free digital book.

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Global Connections by James R. Coggins

I had never met Teus and Maria Kappers—until they asked me to help them publish their joint autobiography. And yet their lives have intersected major connecting points in the global evangelical world. Teus grew up in the Netherlands and Maria in Germany. That they could find each other in the bitter aftermath of the Second World War is testimony to the healing power of the gospel. Teus came to a personal faith in Jesus through Euro 70, a monumental Billy Graham evangelistic effort broadcast all over Europe. He was discipled by the Open Doors ministry started by fellow Dutchman Brother Andrew, known as “God’s smuggler.” (Brother Andrew inspired many to smuggle Bibles into communist countries.) Maria grew up in Freudenstadt (“Town of joy”), which had centuries earlier been a refuge for the Huguenots, persecuted French Protestant followers of John Calvin. Teus and Maria met at the Bible College of Wales, which had been founded in the aftermath of the Welsh Revival. Then they served in various ministries together, including London City Mission, which was one of the many evangelistic and social outreach movements spawned by the evangelical revivals of the 18th and 19th centuries. They immigrated to Canada in 1982, where they played a leading role in the founding of Lighthouse Harbour Ministries, a ministry to seamen in the port of Vancouver, British Columbia, which has had rippled impacts around the world.  They have played a significant role in the global mission of Jesus Christ to make disciples of all nations. 

When We Walk With The Lord (ISBN 978-1-7771926-2-4) is published by my own Mill Lake Books and is available from online retailers and bookstores around the world.

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Where were you?

Though 20 years have passed, if you are old enough to remember the events that took place on September 11, 2001, then chances are you’ve asked, or been asked the question…where were you? And like me, you can probably name the exact location you were at when life as we knew it changed forever.

This is the 20th anniversary of one of the most tragic days in modern US history. On September 11, 2001, 2,977 innocent lives were lost in the Twin Towers, at the Pentagon, and in a rural field in Pennsylvania. The tragedy set in motion by those events would change the course of life both in the US and worldwide.

At the time, I was working at a high tech company in Austin, Texas and taking a leadership class in the basement of our building. We had a TV in the break room. Someone came into the classroom and said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Everyone rushed to watch as the terrible events unfolded. I still remember the shock, the disbelief I felt at watching those planes hit the towers. And later, the towers crumbling to the ground. It was surreal.

With the anniversary of 9/11 approaching, let’s reflect on that day, remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and think about how one day, 20 years earlier, changed everyone’s lives.

Blessings, always, 


Mary Alford 

http://www.maryalford.net

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The Compassionate Church by Nancy J. Farrier

Photo by Meghna R on Unsplash

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were on the church patio area talking with one of the members. We were having a nice chat when, as often happens these days, the subject turned to Covid and the mask mandates and restrictions. 

“I refuse to wear a mask anymore.” The man shook his head. “I don’t have to worry. I’m protected by God. I trust Him. And if something happens and I die, I know where I’m going.” 

I don’t know how many times over the course of the past year and a half I’ve heard versions of this same statement. It makes me angry. Comments like this make me question what happened to the Christian church. Where is the compassion we are to have for those around us? While I realize not every Christian would espouse these beliefs, the thought is prevalent among today’s congregations.

Why am I angry? What is wrong with that statement? Isn’t it true that we don’t have to worry? That God takes care of us? That we have a home in Heaven that is pain free, disease free, etc.? 

Yes. Yes, those are all true statements. But Christianity goes beyond that. Christianity means putting others before ourselves. Christianity means considering the needs of others, not just the inconvenience to us, or our pride in who we are in Christ. 

Where’s the proof? How do we know what is the right thing to do? 

Take a look at the story of Stephen in Acts 7:57-60 after Stephen preached the truth of Christ. He was taken out and stoned to death by the mob of religious leaders. Did he stand there and spout something about not being afraid to die? Did he tell them he knew where he was going and wasn’t worried? No, instead of thinking of himself and what he faced, he said, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” Stephen thought of others and their spiritual welfare, even at the very last moment of his life.

Jesus, when he faced death on the cross, didn’t brag about how He didn’t have to worry about death because He knew where He was going. He wasn’t full of pride. Instead, He made sure to reach as many people as possible with the truth that God loves them. He did His best to prepare the disciples for His death and their role in the church. He thought of others, not Himself. Even as He was dying on the cross, He made sure His mother was cared for and showed compassion for the theif on the cross.

As I listened to the gentleman at church, I took a deep breath and prayed before giving input. Then I told him I didn’t wear a mask out of fear for my life. I didn’t take the vaccine or social distance because of fear. Instead, I was concerned for those who are immunocompromised, for those who might need a little longer for the Holy Spirit to work in their lives, for those whose spiritual lives would be in danger if they got the virus and died. 

Wearing a mask, social distancing, and getting the vaccine were never about me. And they shouldn’t be. As a church we need put aside our pride in the certainty we have in Christ and consider the needs of others. We need to become the church that reflects the love of Christ to those around us.

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When Things Go Wrong by Bridget A. Thomas

Have you ever felt as though God has abandoned you? In Psalm 88:14, the psalmist asks, “Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?” At times in life, we might feel these words deep in our core. This is how I felt recently. It wasn’t that anything major had happened, but there were countless little things in my life that seemed to be going “wrong.” Sometimes life feels just plain hard. I was discouraged and I felt as though God wasn’t with me.

I don’t always remember this in the moment, but the truth is that the enemy is the one who wants us to feel discouraged. He wants us to believe we are all alone, and God has forgotten about us. But God promises to never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8).

In times like these, it is important for us to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and to turn our thoughts around. We must remind ourselves that God is beside us, no matter what we are facing. And we must keep in mind that as children of God, He allows everything that comes into our lives. So He must have a reason and a purpose.

I am reminded of the incident that happened over 60 years ago in Beatrice, Nebraska. There were 15 members of a church choir who were never late to choir practice. Yet on one particular day, every single person was late. With a roar heard in almost every corner of Beatrice, the West Side Baptist Church blew up. The building was flattened and no one could have survived. Yet because of matters such as a soiled dress, a catnap, an unfinished letter, a geometry problem and a stalled car – every member of the choir was late and no one was injured. I have read about this true story numerous times, yet it always leaves me in awe of God’s goodness and miraculous power. Only God could do something like that! (I first read about this incident in A Treasury of Christmas Miracles by Karen Kingsbury. You can also read a bit about it in this article.)

This reminds me that when things seem to go wrong in our lives, we can trust that God is in control. We can trust that He is still on the throne. And we can fully trust Him with all of the problems we face, no matter how large or small.

© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

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Midtown Bus: A Short Story by James R. Coggins

The midtown bus lurched along, carrying its random assortment of humanity.

“Someone should do something,” muttered the old woman, squeezed between two middle-aged businessmen on the seniors’ bench near the front.

The driver, balding with a spreading middle, hunched over the wheel, his eyes on the road, his ears closed to what was happening behind him.

A line of swaying passengers, dangling from hand straps, stretched halfway down the aisle.

A 30-something man with tattoos on his bulging arms sat stoically on an outside seat, no one daring to squeeze past him to the empty inside seat.

In the back, a half-dozen older teens in jeans and black T-shirts lounged on the benches.

“Hey, Paki! What you doing on our bus? Why don’t you go back to India where you belong?” one of them called.

Their target was a wiry, middle-aged Latino with a brown face and black hair, last in the line of swaying standees. He kept his face down, staring at the floor.

“Hey, babe! Want to come back here and give us some honey?”

Their target had switched to a young woman in a black skirt and a white sweater. She glanced up, horrified, then turned her face away to stare at the back door.

Two burly men in a middle seat glanced back at the commotion, then turned up the volume on their iPods.

“Paki, when you get off this bus, we’re going to stick you real good. You should’ve stayed where you belong.”

“Somebody should do something,” muttered the old lady again, perhaps a repetitive phrase of burgeoning dementia.

The bus lurched to a stop to let on one more passenger, a middle-aged woman in a wrinkled business suit. She joined the line of standees.

In the pause, an old man near the back doors slowly pulled himself to his feet, leaning heavily on a wooden cane. He lurched out of the row into the swaying line. He looked back, into the face of a dowdy, middle-aged woman in green slacks. He bowed slightly and waved his gnarled free hand toward the vacated seat.

“Ma’am, would you like to sit down?” he said.

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Can you imagine?

Have you ever just sat and thought about what Heaven would be like?

My tiny human imagination just can’t quite imagine how beautiful and glorious it will be, but I love to try.

We know that the Apostle John got a glimpse of Jesus in His heavenly glory and was so overwhelmed that he fell at his feet as though dead.

Heaven will be perfect. There will be no more tears, no more pain, and no more sorrow. Sin and decay will not enter its gates. And we will recognize our loved ones and they will recognize us. We won’t miss our old lives at all.  

Revelation 21:4 says,

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Imagine a city filled with brilliant and costly stone. It will be Eden restored. And the best thing will be we will be face to face with Jesus and God for all eternity.

Revelation 21: 1-5 says,

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.  And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

As the song I Can Only Imagine says,

Surrounded by Your glory,

What will my heart feel,

Will I dance for you Jesus,

Or in awe of You be still,

Will I stand in your presence,

Or to my knees will I fall,

Will I sing hallelujah,

Will I be able to speak at all,

I can only imagine.

I can only imagine.

Can you?

All the best…

Mary Alford

www.maryalford.net

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Summer Getaway by Tara Randel

Earlier this month my daughter and I went on a summer vacation. That might not sound like a big deal to most people, but because of the business my husband and I own, the summer months are busy and we can’t get away. But I’ve upped by fitness routine over the last year and wanted to go hiking. We love the mountains of north Georgia and typically go there in the autumn, but once I mentioned the idea to my daughter, she was all in. So we booked a cabin and off we went.

We weren’t entirely sure what to expect from the weather, but boy were we pleasantly surprised. The first morning we got there, I went out to the deck to drink my coffee. It was so chilly, I had to drape a blanket over my knees. Trust me, coming from Florida where it’s been in the 90’s, this was a treat. Thankfully the weather held out at cool mornings and low 80’s during the day.

View from our cabin.

Since our objective was hiking, I planned trips to areas we’ve never been before. On our first day, we did a six mile hike. I’m not an expert, so I would say the trail was moderate.  We were thrilled that we walked the trail without giving up. It took forever. (Not really, it just felt like forever, especially when we’d pass people on the way out and they’d say, not much longer, and it was longer!) But eventually we made it to the waterfall at the end of the trail. The scenery, the quietness of the forest, and following a fast moving stream, made it all worthwhile. We even learned to navigate around and over the never ending tree roots and large rocks without any injuries.

That was our longest adventure; the remaining trails we tackled were one to two miles or so. A breeze after our first day. My favorite was viewing Duke Creek Falls for the first time. The trail wasn’t difficult and another lovely trip, but to see the waterfall at the end was a sight I’ll never forget. I now have two favorite places in the entire world, Duke Creek Falls and Ann Ruby Falls.

Duke Creek Falls
Anna Ruby Falls

We spent four of our five days on a few other trails that were challenging. The views were spectacular. As always, the scenes put me in awe of God’s majesty.

As I was preparing to write this blog, I knew I would share about my trip, but one question kept going through my mind. My daughter and I had joked about moving, but would the place where we love to vacation lose its magic if we lived there? Is it better to imagine how lovely it would be to live in a house on the side of a mountain versus visiting at different times of the year and loving every visit? Would we miss the hunt of finding new trails to hike or hidden waterfalls to discover if we lived there all the time and had weekends to explore the places we can’t get to when we vacation and have limited time?

I don’t have the answers to those questions. Once we got home, we immediately jumped back into our regular routines and jobs, but as I looked over the photos I’d taken, I still can’t help but wonder, what if?

What about you? Would you want to live in your favorite vacation destination or keep it strictly to enjoy on family trips?

Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author. Family values, a bit of mystery and of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Look for her Harlequin Heartwarming romance, STEALING HER BEST FRIEND’S HEART, available now. For more information about her books, visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TaraRandelBooks. Sign up for Tara’s Newsletter and receive a link to download a free digital book.

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Handing Our Concerns to God by Bridget A. Thomas

Many years ago, I was headed out of town on a business trip with two coworkers. We had a layover in Chicago, but sadly learned that our connecting flight was cancelled. It was late and there were no other flights going to our destination that evening. They could send us the next morning, but then we would miss part of the class that we were to attend.

We then learned that there was another option. We could take a bus for the last leg of our trip. One of the airport employees gave us directions to get through the airport and catch the last bus going out. We walked and walked, down long and empty hallways. “This is how scary movies start,” I told my coworkers. Thankfully, no one jumped out of the shadows to attack us. We made it to the bus. Then several hours later, we arrived in our destination city. We then took a taxi from the bus depot to our hotel. We made it and we wouldn’t miss class. What a relief.

A couple of days later as our trip was winding down, I decided to check on my flight home. The evening before I was scheduled to leave, I called the airline to make sure all was well. But all wasn’t well. I talked to a very nice man with an accent who told me that because I was a “no show” on my flight in, I was booted off of my return flight. I explained to him that I wasn’t a “no show” but that my flight had been cancelled. He understood and worked diligently to get me back on my flight home. I was on the phone for two hours. This man put me on hold most of the time. But he would get on the line every so often and would encourage me by saying, “Do not worry. Do not worry.” (I can still here these words in his accent and it makes me smile.) Finally, in the end, I was safely scheduled for my original flight home.

Looking back at this trip, I remember how frustrating these incidents were. It can be frustrating when our plans don’t go the way we expect. It can be frustrating when we feel circumstances are out of our hands. It can be frustrating when we are at the mercy of other people. All of these frustrations point to a much scarier feeling – as if we have no control. At times it feels like the plans in our lives are slipping through our fingers, like grains of sand.

However, when we walk with God, it makes all the difference. When we walk with God, we learn to trust Him. When we walk with God, we are able to hand every frustrating situation into His hands. When we walk with God, we are able to find peace, even the midst of circumstances that leave us feeling helpless.

During this trip, when different obstacles arose, I sought God and His divine help. It might not always feel like an easy thing to do – handing our concerns to God. But as we walk with Him, day by day, year by year, we see firsthand how trustworthy He is. Then allowing Him to have control becomes easier and easier.

And no matter what we face, we can proclaim with confidence the words of King David found in Psalm 28:7, “The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

Photo by Jess Bailey Designs on Pexels.com

© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

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Surrendering My “A” Game by Julie Arduini

My brand is surrender. I add chocolate to the mix because that is my constant struggle and there are times we aren’t ready to surrender. I’ve been there, so my tagline is “Encouraging you to surrender the good, the bad, and—maybe one day—the chocolate.”

I’m waist deep in a new contemporary romance series, Surrendering Hearts, and my goodness it has been a bear to write. The characters talk to me all the time but my own life has been a steady flow of grief and the unknown.

Last blog post I shared how I went on vacation and emotionally froze so hard that I physically injured myself. The Sunday I returned to church, the pastor called to pray for anyone that had a knee or back issue. Well, that was certainly where my pain ended up.

I went to a trusted prayer warrior and before I could even get the words out, I blurted it wasn’t really the knee and back that needed healing. I needed healing from the grief and anxiety.

In that prayer time came a huge a-ha moment.

I don’t have to carry it all.

I don’t have to bring my A game to every single thing.

And there it was. The root of my issue. I’ve been believing for as long as I can remember that the success of others depends on my perfection. No wonder I fell apart. No one can live under that kind of pressure. We weren’t created to.

There was yet another trip our family took, a quick one, but it involved flight at an airport I don’t enjoy. I knew it was a huge test for what I was learning. I practiced breathing techniques. I exercised my knee and hamstring. I laid down boundaries that weren’t pressure on others, but were necessary for me. I hate those walking sidewalks and escalators at airports. I am terrified of falling or tripping. I walked and took the elevator. It made a great difference.

The biggest difference was even though I’m still not at regular pace, I was okay with it. I kept repeating I didn’t have to try to be perfect or bring my “A” game. That surrender was key.

Last trip, not even a month ago, I was so overwhelmed by anxiety I could barely walk and had to buy a cane. This last trip, I brought the cane and barely used it.

I remember writing Entangled and being surprised that God was bringing up things from my past for healing as the theme was surrendering regret. Each of my books has carried a surrender theme that God has first tapped me to experience.

This series isn’t any other different. The heroine in Anchored Hearts, Jordyn Hart, loves to think she is in control and she hates change. When everything around her crumbles, she struggles.

Funny. That sounds very familiar!

If you are a real go-getter, I suggest you step back in prayer and ask God if anything needs changing. Are you involved in something God never asked you to do? It doesn’t even have to be anything sinful. Remember, my tagline mentions surrendering the good. There’s a lot I had to let go of that wasn’t sinful or a rebellious choice, it wasn’t where God wanted me.

If you feel the need to be perfect, remember only Jesus is perfect. We don’t even come close. Sure, we should do our best, but if you believe the lie that you’re a failure if things don’t go exactly right, please learn from me. Surrender those lies to Christ today.

Have you read the preview to the Surrendering Hearts series? The sneak peek to Anchored Hearts?

Free preview: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/sreqjn1tin

I’ll email you when there are updates on release/promos. One email will be chosen to receive ANCHORED HEARTS. USA only. https://us1.list-manage.com/contact-form?u=d3f0e89711a9a2d81f58adc92&form_id=d9c525cb026979dc875f5af75557d4e3&fbclid=IwAR2HqcEuwpv-De-GMs4OGzGxy6R8nv-x-Jd8JgYrclQmYmXzxg5AUSes0CM

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Doing It My Way by Nancy J. Farrier

Photo by Damian Siodłak on Unsplash

I did not want to become a Christian. I still remember the struggle all those years ago. I didn’t want to give up my decadent lifestyle. I didn’t want to give up certain friends who strongly opposed Christianity. I didn’t want to give up choosing to do things my way. I wanted to make my own choices and do what I thought was best for me.

The problem was—I wasn’t doing such a great job. My life was a mess. I was a mess. At that low point, I concluded that what I’d been fighting against was the very thing I needed the most. God. His forgiveness. His grace. His mercy.

If there had been a physical road to salvation, you might have seen drag marks in the pavement from my feet. Not that God dragged me. Christianity was clearly my choice, my decision. 

I know I’m not alone. There are many who fear becoming Christians for the very reasons I did. They want to make their own decisions and live the lifestyle they deem appropriate for them. To do it their way.

The people of Judah had a similar problem. In fact, God sent Jeremiah to them with this message.

“Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” ’ ” Jeremiah 18:11 (NKJV)

The people of Judah had strayed so far from God’s intent for their lives that God sent a strong warning for them to listen to Him and follow the path He had for them. He wanted them to give up the detrimental lifestyle they’d adopted. He wanted them to return to putting Him first instead of doing what they wanted. He wanted them to choose Him. But what did the men of Judah say?

“And they said, “That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart.” Jeremiah 18:12 (NKJV)

Despite the imminent threat of disaster and the fact that the Lord God would turn against them, the Judeans said this was too hard. It was hopeless to try to do good. They didn’t want to give up their evil ways. They didn’t want to listen to God. They didn’t want to follow His plan. Instead, they would do it their way, and they even admitted their way was evil. 

I have to say I can relate to these Judeans. There are times I don’t want to wait to see what God wants me to do. Instead, I want to do things my way, or do what seems best to me. I barge ahead with my plans without stopping to consider what I’m doing and it never ends well.

Yet when I stop to remember those early days of being a Christian, the awe of the rightness of surrender returns. What I had feared—the giving up of self—turned out to be the best for me. Not once when I’ve surrendered to God’s will and waited for His direction has He let me down. He is trustworthy and knows what is right for me.

He knows what is right for you too. When you are tempted to live life your way, take a moment to consider and pray. And give the reins over to God. You won’t regret living your life His way.

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The Freedom of Dependency by James R. Coggins

For a number of years, my wife and I belonged to the same church as Patricia Mussolum and her husband Barry. But it was a large church and we never met. I did hear about them though. I cannot recall now what their official position was in the church. I do know that they were widely respected as spiritual leaders, which to my mind was more important.

Pat contacted me out of the blue last year for help in getting a book published. (Besides my own writing, I operate a small imprint called Mill Lake Books.) The result was a book called The Freedom of Dependency, which is now available in the usual bookstores and online retail sites. The back cover summarizes the content: “In this small book, Patricia Mussolum explores a big idea—that the Creator of the universe invites human beings to enter into a loving relationship with Him. In the same way that a branch can produce grapes only if it is connected to the vine, she argues that human beings can only have life, freedom, and fruitfulness if they are connected to Jesus. The intent of this book is to encourage readers to discover the freedom that comes in a life of dependence on Jesus.”

Pat is a retired school teacher and piano teacher and an avid water color artist (good enough to produce the artwork for her own book covers). Her abiding passion is to share God’s truth with others. She is the author of two other books, Wilted Bouquets and Dancing in the Reflections.

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We’re All Just Walking Each Other Home!

A few years back, my husband and I along with two of our good friends went on a Four-Wheel adventure together.

To this day, it is one of my favorite memories and we’ve had quite a few with our good friends.

These pictures were taken on the Continental Divide Trail outside of Lake City, Colorado.  Yes, that’s me behind my husband all bundled up in the helmet. This was during August but it was still quite cold in the high country.

We’ve had some amazing adventures with our friends from this trip to the top of the mountain to the time we were stranded with two flat tires outside of Platoro, Colorado on the 4th of July.

Whether on a four-wheeler or a car with two flat tires, getting to the mountaintop isn’t always easy. It’s a path that can be paved with heartbreak and broken dreams. Sickness and even death.

In Psalm 23: 4 David writes, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

What an amazing promise. No matter how dark our valleys are, or how euphoric the mountaintops can get, we are on a journey that will have bad days and wonderful ones.

But as you pass through this world filled with troubles, look up! Heaven is our future home and we are all just walking each other home.

Blessings always,

Mary Alford

www.maryalford.net

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