Tired, but Trusting #fiveminutefriday

Earlier this week, I was so tired of the way things have been going in life that I just wanted to give up. I was tired of the financial strain, tired of plans not working out the way we’d hoped, tired of having to wonder what to do next, just tired of always feeling like the underdog. But I knew I had to just get up and keep putting one foot in front of the other and trusting God through it all. I realized as I sought Him that even though I’m tired, I still have work to do. Even if our situation never changes, I have to be faithful in the little things, day to day. He has given me tasks, mundane though they may seem, that do not change regardless of where we live or what our situation is. I can never grow weary of loving my children, of supporting my husband, of serving my church or of taking care of my own health. Yes, I may be physically tired, even emotionally and mentally exhausted at times, but I cannot let myself become so worn down by worldly cares that I stop being faithful to the Lord. More than any other time, I need to go to Him with my burdens and let Him renew my strength. I need to be refreshed by His Word and walk on, doing the good work He has given me to do in this season. I can rest in Him and know the harvest is coming!

“Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Galatians 6:9

“Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you;
He will never let the righteous fall.”
Psalm 55:22

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary;
they will walk and not be faint.”
Isaiah 40:31

This post is part of the Five Minute Fridays link-up hosted by Kate Motaung. Join the FMF community and get your free-write on! Find my other Five Minute Fridays posts here

Beauty in the Small Things #fiveminutefriday

This time of year it is sometimes hard to notice beauty in our surroundings. Much of the United States is still seeing snow. Much more of it sees only brown mud and brown grass. The trees are bare and gray. The sky is often gray as well. I am often tempted to feel depressed by the length of winter in February. I long for the sun and the freshness of spring.

However, I found this year that there is beauty to be found in the small things in nature, even in the dead of winter. My children and I discovered a wealth of detailed wonder in the lichen growing abundantly on the trees in our front yard. Even on the chilliest of days, there were little green and yellow signs of life clinging to the tree bark that otherwise looked so barren. Under the brown leaves on the muddy ground we could find patches of lush, green moss, soft and velvety like nature’s carpet in the woods. When we stopped to look closely, we found several different varieties of moss in place! On snowy days, a bright flash of blue darted across the yard–a brilliant blue jay, his suit never dulled by winter’s gray days. Then in another moment, we saw another flash, this time ruby red, telling us our friend the cardinal was nearby.

In all these small things, we found beauty and cause for rejoicing and praising our Creator.

What blessings can you find today, no matter how small, to give you a cause for rejoicing and praise? Look for beauty in the unexpected. Notice the details. Give God the praise!


This post is part of the Five Minute Fridays link-up hosted by Kate Motaung. Join the FMF community and get your free-write on! Find my other Five Minute Fridays posts here

Agree with God #fiveminutefriday

Agree with God, and be at peace;

thereby good will come to you.

Receive instruction from his mouth,

and lay up his words in your heart.

Job 22:21-22 (ESV)

When I read today’s prompt I immediately thought of the phrase “agree with God,” but I didn’t know if there was an actual Bible verse that used those words. So when I went to look it up, I was pleasantly surprised that the verse I found goes right along with the ideas I have been thinking and writing about lately.

When we agree with God, we will be at peace. How good is that promise?! Peace is sought after but seldom found in our busy, pressured lives today. When we agree with God, when we let Him be in control and speak His truth into our lives, that is when we find peace.

Good will come to us when we believe God’s words and take them to heart. When we believe lies and ignore God’s direction, bad things are bound to happen to us. But God promises blessing when we obey and follow Him.

Just like I wrote earlier this week, we need to lay up God’s truth in our hearts. We need to replace lies with the truth, receiving His instruction in the truth. When we do this, we agree with God about our identity, about His character, about the world and about what our role is in His kingdom. When we stop agreeing with the world and start agreeing with God, we are in for abundant blessing. Let’s get in the Word and start believing God!

More resources on this topic:

Lies Women Believe by Nancy Lee DeMoss (Wolgemuth)

Believing God by Beth Moore

P.S.—Did you know that if you sign up for my email list you get special subscriber freebies AND extra weekly bonus content not found on my blog!? Sometimes it will be a recipe, sometimes an extra free printable, sometimes a healthy living tip, sometimes a poem or song…you just never know what little bit of goodness I’m going to include next! Sign up here to get in on the fun…You can even choose whether you want to receive just the weekly digest with the extra goodies, just my blog posts (no extra weekly content), or ALL my emails so you don’t miss a thing!

This post is part of the Five Minute Fridays link-up hosted by Kate Motaung. Join the FMF community and get your free-write on! Find my other Five Minute Fridays posts here

Surrender: Thoughts on Psalm 37 #fiveminutefriday

Surrender: Thoughts on Psalm 37

In my devotional time lately I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Psalms. I feel like praying through the very prayers inspired by God helps train my heart and mind to desire what is right. Psalm 37 has been near and dear to my heart for a long time, but it has come to the forefront of my mind again lately as I have been working through some trust issues. This prompt of “surrender” took me back to Psalm 37 again. (I also found it a bit…um…interesting that I just wrote a post last week on the same theme of “letting go.”) The main verses that stand out to me with this idea of surrender are as follows:

Trust in the LORD and do good;

dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Delight yourself in the LORD

and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;

trust in Him and He will do this:

He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,

the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him;

do not fret when men succeed in their ways,

when they carry out their wicked schemes.

–Psalm 37:3-7

The words in these verses that carry some of the same meaning as surrender are “trust,” “commit” and “be still.” Trusting God is letting Him be in control, surrendering the reigns to him and believing He will take good care of me.  If I commit my way to the Lord, I am giving up or surrendering my own way. “Be still” is also a reminder to surrender. If I am still, I am at rest. I am not struggling or fighting. I am surrendered and willing to be used by God. The problem with all these things is that they go against our (MY) natural desire to be in control of our circumstances and to do what we want to do.

The beautiful thing about the picture of surrender in Psalm 37 is that it also shows the good things God promises when we give Him control:

He will give us safety. (vs. 3)

He will give us the desires of our heart. (vs. 4)

He will make our righteousness and justice shine. (vs. 6)

We will enjoy great peace. (vs. 11)

He will uphold us. (vs. 17)

I could go on, but my time is already up! The point is this: Surrender is not easy, but surrendering to the One who holds our future in His hands is always, always, the best thing to do.

This post is part of the Five Minute Fridays link-up hosted by Kate Motaung. Join the FMF community and get your free-write on! Find my other Five Minute Fridays posts here

Simplify Your Focus: Five Minute Fridays

This time of year there seems to be a plethora of self-improvement choices around the internet (and elsewhere). We are bombarded with choices for courses to take, books to read, or programs to join in order to better ourselves in some way or another. Some of that is good. It is helpful for us to have training and accountability in pursuing our goals. At the same time, though, sometimes all this amounts to is more noise, more comparison, more ways to feel like we aren’t good enough or aren’t doing enough.

A few weeks ago, this was how I was feeling—as if all the noise from social media, books, blogs and podcasts was just cluttering my brain and heart to the point that I couldn’t focus on anything. It dawned on me that I needed to simplify my focus. After all, I can only do one thing really well at a time. I needed to quiet all the noise so I could focus on what was really necessary and important. And it helped, as it always does, to clear my head and pray and take a break from scrolling the internet.

As I was thinking back over my goals for 2018, I noticed a common theme, especially in terms of my “whys” for setting those particular goals.  I could boil it all down to two questions: what will help me better serve my family, and what will help me better glorify God? I may have many different goals and ideas for how to accomplish them, but if I really simplify my focus to those two things, God and my family, I will always be headed in the right direction.

This post is part of Five Minute Fridays. To read my other FMF posts, click here, or on the tag #fiveminutefriday at the bottom of the page. 

What Motivates Me? #fiveminutefriday

I will be the first to admit that I am not easily motivated to do things that are not easy, comfortable or enjoyable for me. And I am not naturally very self-disciplined. I need outside deadlines and accountability to really stay on task over the long haul. The new year has been a good time for me to renew my motivation and to set goals for action, but what will keep my motivated to follow through on these goals? I hope that having come up with my “why” for all my goals will be what keeps me coming back over and over to keep making progress. And I know that the more I let other people in on my goals, the more accountability I will feel to continue growing, bit by bit. Most of all, I want to become a better person, and that motivates me to keep moving forward, even when I don’t feel like working hard. Some people need reminders to slow down. Not me. I need motivation to keep going when the going gets tough. So, if you notice a few more posts this year about how I am making progress toward my goals, consider yourself part of my personal accountability group! And thanks for keeping me on task!

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

~Philippians 3:12-14

What motivates you to buckle down and do hard things? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

P.S.-It’s been a long time since I participated in Five Minute Fridays, but I am making it one of my goals to write one of these posts at least once a month! So, welcome back to my FMF blogger friends! I hope we’ll see each other around more often in 2018. 

This post is part of Five Minute Fridays. To read my other FMF posts, click here, or on the tag #fiveminutefriday at the bottom of the page. 

Growth: Slow and Steady Progress

Here we are at the bright, shiny (and very cold!) beginning of the new year–2018. I cannot begin to describe the ups and downs that our family experienced in 2017, but I can say with certainty that we are happy we came through it all. We are stronger, closer, and I pray, more faithful now than we were when the year began. It was a year of hardship and testing, of waiting, of uncertainty, and of more waiting. We received many blessings and many of our prayers were answered in amazing ways. Other prayers still wait for answers, but that gives us something to look forward to in the year to come, does it not?!

I have been away from the blog for a couple of weeks, not intentionally, but because I have been spending a lot of my free time thinking and planning and writing in my journal. My thoughts have needed time to sit and soak before I could put them into words. Even now as I sit down to write this post, I am hesitant to put my thoughts into print because I am still in the process of sorting things out in my mind. Still, I wanted to begin writing some things here, partly for accountability, partly just so you all would know I am still alive over here!

If you happen to have come to Tuning Hearts from my old blog, then you may remember that a couple of years ago I jumped on the “Word of the Year” bandwagon. I don’t actually remember if I chose a word for 2017, though. And if I did, it probably should have just been “Survive” because that pretty well sums up what I felt like I did all year! But this year is going to be different. This year we are going to thrive!

Recently, through various social media channels, I found out about Lara Casey’s Goal Setting blog series. Even though I had already started planning and sketching out some goals for 2018, I decided to try her steps as outlined in the series. Can I just tell you how glad I am that I did this? Lara’s posts have inspired and challenged me to think even more deeply about the changes I hope to see in my life and in the life of our family in the future. And the best part of all her steps (for me, at least) has been the forward-thinking nature of goal setting. She challenges her readers not just to think about what they want to accomplish in 2018, but who they want to be when they are 80 years old. When you frame your plans and goals in light of who you want to be when you come to the end of your life, it really changes your perspective! Now instead of thinking just about how my goals and desires can help me “do better” in certain areas of my life,  I am thinking about what I should pursue to become the person that God wants me to be and how that will affect my family, friends, church and community as well!

The hopes that I have for 2018, the changes I want to make, all point to this one theme: growing what I have already been given. The Lord has been good to me. He has set me on a path, and I am moving forward. He has given me a strong foundation. Now I need to keep on track and grow in the things that He has set before me to do. I need personal growth, relational growth, growth in my work and in my habits and in my recreation. I never want to stop learning and growing and becoming more of who God wants me to be. I do not want to stagnate.

I know there is hard work ahead.  A lot of my goals are going to require a good deal of self-control and discipline to accomplish. But I also know that it will be well worth it if I keep moving steadily forward. I am not expecting or chasing after perfection here. I am just looking for progress. I am aiming for small improvements over the course of each day, each week and each month, until at the end of year I can look back and see a track record of steady growth.

In another post, I will talk more in depth about some or all of my goals. At this point, I am still fleshing some of them out, so I am not ready to write about them yet. So be looking for that post later this week! Until then, I would love to hear if you have a word or phrase that you are going to focus on in 2018. What do you want to see God do in your life this year? Tell me about it in the comments below! Let’s cheer each other on and keep each other accountable to keep moving forward and doing the next right thing!

Like A Tree #Write31Days Day 17

Have you ever stopped to think about the growth of a tree? Through bitter cold, blistering heat, blustery wind, beating rain, and blazing sun. Through good years of plenteous rains and lean years of drought. From tiny and tender seedling, to soft and supple sapling, to young and vigorous greenwood, to old and sturdy hardwood. A tree withstands so much. Though its bark and wood may show scars from wounds or disease, with its roots running deep and branches ever reaching toward the sun, a strong tree can heal and thrive. Its branches spread. Its leaves give shade. It brings forth flowers for beauty. It bears fruit, nut and seed to give food to the living creatures in its shade. Its strong limbs offer shelter to nesting birds and squirrels tending their young.

How apt is the comparison in Psalm 1 of a righteous man with a healthy, well-watered tree! I, too, want to grow like a strong, fruitful tree—withstanding every trial, always reaching deep for the water of the Word, ever lifting my gaze to reach toward the Son, and tirelessly spreading my arms wide to bless all those within my reach.

This post is part of the annual 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge, part of the Write 31 Days challenge with prompts from Five Minute Fridays. Find all my other challenge posts under the tag #Write31Days

How Can We Tell Them? #Write31Days Day 2

Yesterday my son wondered why there was a police officer on duty at the church we attended. Today he overheard a video on Instagram referring to the tragedy in Las Vegas last night. On both occasions I had to tell my son that there are some bad people doing bad things in our world today. We are not even safe at church, perhaps less so, actually. It is so hard to have these conversations with my children. I want to shield them from the hard, scary realities of these times in which we live. But they need to know the truth.

Even more, they need to know the truth that we can still trust God to take care of us, that we can have hope in Him. They need me to tell them the stories of faithful ones gone before us who stood firm in their faith amidst trials. They need me to tell them about the God who parted the Red Sea, who stopped the sun, who raised the dead to life. They need me to tell them about the hope we have in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Because when hard times come, when evil seems to be winning, that hope is all they will have. And then they can in turn, tell others about that Hope as well.

This post is part of the annual 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge, part of the Write 31 Days challenge with prompts from Five Minute Fridays. Find all my other challenge posts under the tag #Write31Days.

In Spirit and In Truth: #Write31Days Challenge Day 1

I have been thinking a lot lately about the different ways people worship within the Christian faith. Since moving, and even before that, within the broader Christian homeschool community, I have come into contact with more people who practice their faith very differently than I do mine. Orthodox, Catholics, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Lutherans, etc., etc., all having traditions, practices and rituals that differ widely from each other as well as from my own Baptistic practices. Yet we all worship the same Savior. We all believe basically one common thing at the end of the day: that salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. How we worship is different, but WHO we worship….

HE is the same.

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.  (John 4:23-24, ESV)

This post is part of the annual 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge, part of the Write 31 Days challenge with prompts from Five Minute Fridays. Find all my other challenge posts under the tag #Write31Days.