Regaining Strength
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It’s easy to feel down or frustrated after experiencing a failure or loss or setback of some sort. Our immediate reaction may be fear or despair, while hope and strength feel beyond our reach. Helplessness and hopefulness are at two opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, and yet there are always small steps we can take to climb out of our feelings of failure and move forward in life.

How do you regain your strength in order to keep going? Here are some principles that will help the process:

  • Grieve the loss, don’t ignore the pain. Allow yourself to feel sad when disappointment happens.
  • Find a healthy way to express your feelings – journaling, walking, talking to a friend, painting, gardening, etc.
  • Seek God’s comfort and ask Him for strength to move forward.
  • Choose to look for glimmers of hope. Find something for which you can give thanks each day.
  • Take a step forward in a positive direction, even if it is simply meeting a colleague or friend.
  • Step out and help someone else. Make a plan for how you can use your experience to strengthen another person.

In my own life, when I have faced hurt or disappointment I have found that God gives me an inner strength beyond what I could produce on my own. The Bible reminds us that He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of need.  This week focus on the strength He gives. And always remember, where we are weak, He is strong.

Talk to your kids this week about healthy ways to work through frustrations and what it means to find strength in the Lord.

Photo by Tanja Heffner on Unsplash

Encourage Your Kids to Shine
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One life lived with passion, purpose and purity – that’s how I would describe Billy Graham. As we celebrate his life and his homegoing to Heaven, I want to encourage each of us to carry the torch. His death shouldn’t put a dark cloud over our heads, but rather it should ignite a fire in our hearts. Billy Graham used the gifts God gave him to proclaim the message of light and truth in a dark world.

What are the gifts God has given you?

Perhaps it’s writing.

Or maybe it’s serving.

Or teaching.

Or encouraging.

Or leading.

Or giving.

Consider the gifts you have been given and carry the torch. Shine the light of God’s love and share the message of hope that He brings to this world. Jesus said,  “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Billy Graham certainly demonstrated what Jesus was talking about in shining His light. Jesus’ message wasn’t’ just for Billy Graham, it was for each of us as followers of Christ. Let’s honor Billy Graham’s legacy by carrying on the torch and igniting the embers of revival throughout our country.

This week talk with your kids about the gifts they have and how they can use those gifts to shine God’s light to others.

For more about Billy Graham and to view his memorial service Click Here. 

Exchanging Insecurity for Worth
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This week I am welcoming our guest blogger Julie Smith to share her insight on discovering our true worth.

Julie Smith –

 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man. Proverbs 3:3-4

At a recent event, as I looked up, I saw two women staring at me and laughing. Questions took personal roll call in my mind. “Is something wrong with my attire?” “Are they talking about me?” “Do they even like me?” Ever been there? For some, this is a non-event. Yet, for me, and others who have a history with gossip’s punches, insecurity rises up on the inside. Insecurity shrinks us inside and minimizes our identity. And, often, insecurity acts as a filter, blurring the facts. With my heavy heart, I went to Jesus to share my feelings with Him. Prompted to read the above verse, I asked myself this question:

How would a filter of mercy and truth work when insecurity rears its ugly head?

God paints a lovely word picture in Proverbs 3. Imagine wearing a one-of-a-kind necklace inscribed with the words ”mercy” and ”truth”. Necklaces are visible reminders of something we treasure. Often, necklaces rest over the heart. God desires that we treasure both mercy and truth, keeping them close to our hearts. Truth consists of only the facts. So, a truth filter acknowledges an offense, because it happened. And, mercy chooses to treat the offender better than he or she deserves.

As I looked at this event through God’s filters, mercy and truth, my heart felt lighter. The truth – I don’t know if the women were gossiping about me or not. For this conversation, let’s suppose they were. That’s where the mercy filter sharpened my vision. God says that we are to love our enemies and do good to those who hurt us. So, I imagined greeting them at the next event, engaging them with sincere questions. Rather than feeling diminished inside, I saw my insecurities shrinking instead. In exchange for a heavy, insecure heart, Jesus gave me His heart for these women and for myself. Mercy definitely triumphs over judgment!

If we look to God to meet our needs, we are free to love people, rather than looking to them to fill the needs only God can fill.

The Power of Laughter
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We know that laughter is good medicine emotionally speaking, but evidence reveals that there are physical benefits as well. A number of years ago, Norman Cousins, famous editor of Saturday Review, was told he had a severe case of an incurable, progressive, connective tissue disease.  He decided instead of sitting around allowing the pain to take over, he would become proactive in his health care management and especially his attitude.  One of the things he decided to do was to obtain copies of old shows and movies he had always enjoyed like “Candid Camera” and Marx Brothers films.  He also decided to read humorous books.  He reported that 10 minutes of genuine belly laughter would relieve his intense pain for hours.

While Norman was in the hospital he started a routine of watching movies, laughing, sleeping, watch movies, laughing sleeping and so on.  After a while he was moved out of the hospital because his laughter was disturbing other patients, but he continued his treatment with astounding results.  Using massive doses of vitamin C and a tremendous amount of laughter every day, he experienced a gradual withdrawal of his symptoms and eventually regained most of his freedom of movement.  You can read his entire story in his book, Anatomy of an Illness (Bantam Books, 1981).

What are some ways you can be intentional about laughter in your own life? Sometimes it comes down to a choice. When you make a mistake or something frustrating happens, find a way to laugh rather than despair. When someone says a discouraging remark, respond with a little chuckle and a positive comment. Opportunities to laugh are all around us, we just need to be looking for them. And always remember, never laugh at people, just laugh with them.

Finally, remember to smile often. Studies show that smiling elevates our mood. I like to think of smiles as gifts we give to other people to uplift their day. It’s not about how you feel as much as it is about making someone else feel better. Be honest with your emotions and grieve when you need to, but don’t miss the many invitations to smile that show up on a regular basis. As Valentines Day approaches, may your days be filled love and laughter, as you enjoy life and lift up the people around you.

Check out Karol’s book, A Positive Plan for Creating More Fun, Less Whining



Photo by Thiago Cerqueira on Unsplash

Finding Wonder Everyday
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Research now shows the benefits of experiencing a sense of awe as we observe nature, listen to music, appreciate artwork or even practice religion. A feeling of wonder tends to remind us that we are not the center of the universe, rather there is a much bigger picture of which we are a part. People who are awestruck tend to feel humbled and thankful and often are inspired to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

The older we get, the less we seem to take note of those beautiful moments of wonder in our everyday lives. Wouldn’t it be great to have the eyes of a child once again? Children see spectacular moments in the simple things – a yellow butterfly, a sand castle, a funny-looking bug or a genuine smile. Is it possible to regain that sense of wonder? Certainly it is, but we must be observant and intentional.

One of the ways to increase our awestruck moments is by turning your heart and mind toward the God of all wonders. Start each day by praising Him for His amazing hand in creation. Observe the life around you, whether you are looking out the window or paying attention to the people He puts in your path. Stop and consider the intricate details of all He created both great and small.

The psalmist praised God for the wonders of His creation, but he also acknowledged the wonders of God’s love. In Psalm 31:21 we read, “Praise be to the Lord, for he showed me the wonders of His love.” Perhaps the beauty of His unfailing love toward us is the greatest wonder of them all. Oh that we would stand amazed at His grace and mercy each day, for truly this would give us a sense of humility and thankfulness, as well as a desire to show love and grace toward others.

This week, let’s be deliberate about experiencing wonder, especially as we consider the love and goodness of our wonderful Heavenly Father. May we never lose our sense of awe and delight in who He is and what He has done for us!

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

This month’s $5 book special is Karol’s devotional, Pursuing God in the Quiet Places. Each devotional points to attributes of God and opens our hearts to the wonder of who He is.  Click Here for more info.

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