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

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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. 

What Do I Need? #fiveminutefriday

Thinking about “needs” today, I was struck by how many things I think I need on a daily, or at least a regular basis:

I need quiet.
I need personal space.
I need my morning tea.
I need to write.
I need to read.
I need to create.
I need to connect with my husband.
I need to connect with my kids.
I need time outside in nature.
I need water.
I need wholesome food.
I need to feel understood.
I need prayer.
I need a plan.
I need a to-do list.
I need sleep.
I need structure.
I need flexibility.
I need peace.
I need a clean house.
I need the internet.

Most of all, though, I need the grace of God to get me through the day.

Some of my needs are healthy things. Others may be less than healthy. Some are things that are easy to get on a daily basis. Others are more challenging for me to get right now. Some of my needs are filled by means of self-discipline. Others are filled as a simple matter of habit. And still others are actually out of my control. All my needs, in the end, are ultimately fulfilled by God’s provision, either directly or indirectly. And to Him I offer thanks and praise at the end of the day for giving me what I truly needed.

And my God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19 (NASB)

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

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

Loosening My Grip, #Write31Days Day 7

  1. I never knew I had control issues until I became a parent. Up until that point, I had a pretty tight hold on my schedule and daily routines…when I slept and for how long, when I ate and what I did on the weekends. I was in control of the little details on my life, or so I thought. I planned out my days for smooth sailing, and other than little speed bumps in marriage or finances, things were pretty peaceful.

Enter those predictably unpredictable, dependent and demanding creatures better known as children…and not just any children, but infants! Infants who cried and begged to be fed or changed at the most inconvenient times… Infants who never slept at night but could fall asleep in the car five minutes from home, thereby rendering any attempts at getting them to nap again completely useless… Infants who could cry inconsolably about seemingly nothing, leaving me feeling completely helpless and, yes, out of control. No more nice, neat little weekend plans, no more quiet adult conversation over dinner, and certainly, no more sleeping 8 solid hours in a given night!

My 5 minutes are up, but I have so much more to say on this topic of control and parenting. So let’s just run with it….

You see, these little upsets in my daily routine were just the beginning. Now I have bigger kids who have more independence and responsibility, more room to make their own choices and their own mistakes. I can’t control their choices or their behavior any more than I could control whether or not they had a good night of sleep. Yes, I can guide them and teach them and give them consequences when they disobey or disrespect me. But I don’t control the outcome of these efforts. As much as I would like a neat little plan that says, “Do this and this and that, and your children will turn out to be model Christian citizens,” there is no such formula.

In fact, I am learning that the tighter I try to hold onto my expectations for the perfect day and try to control my children’s behavior, the more chaos and conflict ensue. Instead of trying to wrestle peace and joy into my days by tightening my grasp, I am finding that I must hold all things loosely and let God be the guide. I must release hold of my expectation and selfish desires so that He can fill my hands with His plans for me. And I must let go of the tight hold I want to keep on my children, handing them over to His care because He knows far better than I do how to mold and shape their hearts for His glory. It is a slow, difficult lesson for me, but I am beginning to learn to loosen my hold on control and let God give me what I really need—more of His grace.

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

Trusting the Author: #Write31Days Day 6

I have have been keeping up with the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes, but not all of them have been worthy of posting for various reasons. I am also writing them all out long hand, which means they are all pretty short. I could probably type faster and write more. But I feel like it is a good exercise for me to have to be very concise since my time is so limited. This post is from yesterday’s prompt, but I only got around to doing it today. We will see if I get any better at staying on schedule next week! 

When I read this prompt, Francesca Battistelli’s song “Write Your Story” immediately came to mind. But then quickly following that thought came the question, “What if I don’t like the plot twists in this story He is writing, this story of my life?” Truth be told, I sometimes have a hard time accepting my role in this story. So how can I learn to accept His plans and trust that it fits into His greater anthology of human history and eternal destiny? It doesn’t do me any good to fight it. He is the Author, after all. I only make myself (and everyone around me) miserable when I try to fight against Him.

I must remember that the Author loves me. He takes delight in me. He is for me. He even says He “works for the good of this who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIV) I know He has called me to be used by Him, so I believe He can use even the hard, broken parts of my story, not just the easy, lovely ones, for His purposes. All I have to do is surrender to Him and let Him write the healing, too.

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

This post is also part of the Five Minute Friday Link-up

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.