Hope

Let’s celebrate Advent! Advent is the anticipation of the coming of Christ. The word “Advent” is Latin and it means “coming.” Some churches observe Advent by lighting a candle on the four Sundays before Christmas. The four candles represent Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

Since today is the first of the four Sundays, it is dedicated to Hope.

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

Hope – The birth of Jesus gives us hope. In this crazy and fallen world we live in, what else do we have, if not hope? Hope that God will forgive our sins. Hope that we will spend eternity in Heaven. Hope that the Lord will walk with us each day while we are on this earth. And hope that Jesus will come again.

Take a moment to reflect today: What does hope mean to you? What are you hopeful for?

Prayer: Father, I admit at times I feel beaten by the despair in this world. But You have overcome the world. So thank You for giving me hope today and every day. I have hope in Your Son, Jesus. I have hope because You have redeemed me. I have hope of spending eternity in Your presence. And I have hope because You are by my side every single day. Thank You, Father, for this beautiful word – Hope. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

On each of the four Sundays I will also share a video by Ann Voskamp. Here is the first one where she talks about hope.

(Ann Voskamp also has a wonderful Advent devotional, The Greatest Gift, which I love. You can find it here.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, so I want to take a moment to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! Whether you are American or not, I hope you will take time today to thank God for all the blessings in your life. Our Father is so very good to us, each and every day. We have so much to be thankful for. We just have to take the time to stop and look around. When we do, we will see how blessed we are. And we will see that every day is a gift from God!

I will leave you with a song that might be familiar to you. The Doxology by Anthem Lights (featuring Selah).

Grateful for Our People

A month of gratitude! Let’s focus on gratitude throughout the month of November. I challenge you to look around and be more aware of the blessings in your life. And each day write down at least five things you are thankful for.

We are surrounded by people, all day and every day. Even if we live alone, we can’t avoid people. We interact with people at the grocery store, at work, at church, and at home. Not all relationships will be stellar, no matter how much we wish they were. Some people won’t like us, no matter what we do. We will have conflicts and trials in life, and they often deal with people. We might even have our own family members cause strife for us or shun us. In the world of social media, we all have hundreds of “friends.” But in reality the majority are not deep, bonding type of friendships. Unfortunately, in today’s society, many of our friendships are only surface level. Superior relationships in our world should be cherished.

I recently had someone confront me. I don’t want to get into the details, but the bottom line is that I felt blindsided. I was running my race, thinking all was well, when someone came along and knocked my feet out from under me. (This was really an attack from the enemy to steer me off course, but I won’t get into that now.) Although this confrontation was hurtful, in the end the incident brought gratitude. Why? Because it made me grateful for my people. It made me grateful for the trusted person who I could turn to about what happened and who agreed that I did nothing wrong. And it made me grateful for all the wonderful people in my life who are always there by my side, rooting me on, and encouraging me. People who faithfully show up, day after day. People who love me despite my flaws. People who bring joy into my life.

As I look over my gratitude journal from this year, there are dozens and dozens of entries reflecting on people that I am grateful for. Entries like:

  • My husband texting me “I love you” when I am at work.
  • Talking to my parents on the phone who live over a thousand miles away.
  • My sister who I talk to via text almost daily and she is always there to answer when I need her.
  • A friend who often tells me how much my writing is a blessing to her.
  • A coworker who left a nice note on my desk.
  • Friends who came to my first book signing.
  • A friend who owns a blueberry farm and made my first book signing possible.
  • Faithful friends who kindly offered to be on my book launch team.
  • Lovely people who walked beside me when I hosted the Redeemed Challenge. I was hoping to help inspire them, but as iron sharpens iron, they inspired me too.
  • Other bloggers who have been a blessing to me.
  • Saying hello to a neighbor at the community mailbox.
  • Seeing family who we had not seen in a while, which brought a bit of peace, as we were attending a funeral.
  • Even my dogs who bring love and comfort. (Yes, our pets can be our people too!)

My heart is so full when I look over this list. Yes, we will have negative experiences with some people. But we shouldn’t let those experiences cloud the wonderful experiences we have with our people. So today, as you focus on gratitude, think about the people in your life who are there for and take a moment to tell them that you appreciate them.

And with that, I would like to say “thank you” to you for being here. A writer’s life can be lonely. We never know who will read our writing. And as we send our work out into the world, it can bring anxiety, as we don’t know how it will be received. So having wonderful people like you show up faithfully to read these blog posts and encourage me along the way means more to me than you will ever know!

I thank my God every time I remember you. ~ Philippians 1:3

… And remember that every day is a gift from God!

(I will be sharing similar gratitude related posts here the first four Saturdays of this month. So be sure to visit again. And on each Thursday of this month, I will be sharing similar gratitude related posts on Christians Read. If you want to read the most recent Thursday post, click here.)

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Grateful for a Guarded Heart

A month of gratitude! Let’s focus on gratitude throughout the month of November. I challenge you to look around and be more aware of the blessings in your life. And each day write down at least five things you are thankful for.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

The Bible tells us to guard our hearts. I believe this is important to remember when walking in gratitude. We have to be conscientious about what we allow into our lives, into our minds, seen by our eyes, and heard by our ears. Negativity and chaos breed more negativity and chaos. But optimism and peace breed more optimism and peace. How can we walk in gratitude if we are filling our lives with the all the wrong things? What we allow into our minds flows to our hearts. And in the end this ultimately affects our lives. We have to be selective about what movies we watch, what books we read, what comes through our television, what kind of friends we hang around, who we follow on social media, and so on.

We have to feed ourselves the right things. Things that will keep our hearts in the right place. Things that will edify and help us grow. Here are a few examples:

  • The Bible. The living, breathing Word of God. Making the Bible part of our daily life will not only help us grow in our walk with the Lord, but it will also help us to grow in gratitude. This is vital when trying to fill your mind with the right things.
  • In your spare time, listen to sermons or podcasts that teach the Word of God, or encourage you in some way.
  • Listen to Christian radio.
  • If you are on social media, follow Christian pastors and writers. Look for pages that inspire. Don’t follow pages that are filled with negative posts, complaints, questionable content, or foul language.
  • My husband and I do not go to the movie theater very often. Maybe once every few years. Part of the reason is that if there is a movie we want to see, we would rather wait for it to be on television so that we don’t have to hear the four letter words.
  • My sister and I like to read classic literature, authors like Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. We usually read them at the same time as one another so we can discuss the books. It’s as though we have our own mini book club. A couple of years ago when we read The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, we talked about how “juicy” it was because the book had a multitude of plot twists. But we never reach for juicy books in a worldly sense.

Some things, people, and activities will help our spiritual health to grow stronger, while other things, people, and activities may weaken our spiritual health. Some things will draw us closer to Jesus, while other things pull us away from Him.

Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. – Luke 13:24

I know this post wasn’t fluffy and heart-warming. But I do feel this is an important topic to consider when walking with the Lord and when walking in gratitude. I am the type of person that is easily brought down by the negativity around me. So I have to make an extra effort to fill myself up with the right things. In this world we live in, we are constantly bombarded with all the wrong things. So I hope this post helps you to consider how you might make changes in your life as you walk in gratitude.

… And remember that every day is a gift from God!

(I will be sharing similar gratitude related posts here the first four Saturdays of this month. So be sure to visit again. And on each Thursday of this month, I will be sharing similar gratitude related posts on Christians Read. If you want to read the most recent Thursday post, click here.)

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Grateful for Rest

A month of gratitude! Let’s focus on gratitude throughout the month of November. I challenge you to look around and be more aware of the blessings in your life. And each day write down at least five things you are thankful for.

When I have a lot of tasks on my To Do list, it makes me feel stressed. I worry about lack of time and getting everything accomplished. This is not a good environment when you are trying to grow in gratitude. And lately my life has seemed extra busy. So before this month began, I tried to clear my plate as much as possible. And each day I am trying to be intentional about how I spend my time.

When we begin to walk in gratitude, we might have to be extra diligent about focusing on gratitude. It’s not easy to change our mindsets. These things take time and practice. And I believe a key piece of the puzzle is to slow down and savor life. This helps us to keep gratitude in mind, instead of allowing a million other things to clutter our minds. Be picky about the things you do each day. Especially when you are first starting out on this path. Allow yourself time to rest in the Lord’s presence. Be still. Listen.

“Be still and know that I am God…” – Psalm 46:10

When we take time to slow down and rest in the Lord’s presence, this helps our gratitude attitude to prosper. The weight of the world falls off of our shoulders. Stress melts away. And we find a sense of peace.

“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7 (NLT)

If you sit most of the day, you might think you are resting. But I am talking about resting the mind. Allow yourself to sit quietly with God for a few minutes. Even just five minutes with the Lord with refresh your soul.

So today take some time to sit quietly with the Lord. Reading your Bible for a few minutes would also be helpful to get yourself in the right mindset. Then ask Jesus to allow His peace to wash over you.

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” – John 14:27 (NIV)

Remember that every day is a gift from God!

(I will be sharing similar gratitude related posts here the first four Saturdays of this month. So be sure to visit again. And on each Thursday of this month, I will be sharing similar gratitude related posts on Christians Read. If you want to read the most recent Thursday post, click here.)

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Grateful for My Journal

A month of gratitude! Let’s focus on gratitude throughout the month of November. I challenge you to look around and be more aware of the blessings in your life. And each day write down at least five things you are thankful for.

One thing I am thankful for today is my journal. I always liked the idea of journaling. However, throughout the years I would start a journal, then give up on it before too long. Now for the first time in my life, I have been able to consistently keep a journal for a couple of years.

What is the difference between then and now? Gratitude!

In the past I would use a journal to complain about the things in my life that I wished were different. The result was that journaling became a negative experience. Why would I want to keep a journal which only brought me down? When we complain and focus on the things that are wrong in our lives, we become bitter and resentful. And studies show that complaining can have harmful effects on our health.

A couple of years ago, I started using a journal to write down things I was thankful for. And I continue to do that today. Often I will write down good things that happened during the day. The things I write down could be something big, like publishing a book. But more often they are small things that are part of daily life, such as a beautiful sunset or my husband surprising me with a cooked dinner when I get home. These moments make up our lives. They might seem small because they are things that happen often. But they are still beautiful and meaningful moments.

It can be all too easy to allow life to bring us down. But if you open your eyes to the beauty that surrounds you, your perspective will change. Over time you will see miracles that you wouldn’t have noticed before. You will see all the blessings that God showers you with each and every day. As a result, your mood will improve and your health will also reap the benefits.

I believe that writing these special moments on paper is also vital when you want to focus on gratitude. There is something significant about putting pen to paper. Studies show that writing things down helps us to remember them better. In the case of gratitude, writing down the things we are grateful for helps our brain to remember the blessings in our lives. If we merely look around and don’t actually write these things down, we will forget them quickly. As soon as something bad happens, all our gratitude will go out the window.

Let’s take this a step further. Writing down what we are thankful for also helps us to enforce this new habit of gratitude in our lives. If we don’t write down the things we are thankful for, we will forget to continue to look around at the blessings in our lives. We will get busy with our normal day-to-day life and gratitude will be long forgotten.

When I began walking in gratitude, I started out by writing down ten things I was thankful for every day. And I intentionally laid my journal in a place where I would see it every day, so I wouldn’t forget. So this helped me to make gratitude a routine in my life that I still follow today. As a result, it helped my attitude to be more optimistic as well. That is why I am grateful for my journal. It was a key tool I used when implementing gratitude in my life.

So let’s make a point of writing down all of the wonderful treasures in our lives. Our Father is a loving Father who enjoys being good to us. I pray we can all be better about opening our eyes to all the wonderful blessings He gives us every single day.

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. – Psalm 9:1

And remember that every day is a gift from God!

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A Month of Gratitude

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As some of you know, last November I held a Gratitude Challenge. This was similar to what we just went through last month with the Redeemed Challenge. With the Gratitude Challenge, we walked through my book Every Day is a Gift, which is about … you guessed it, gratitude. I chose the month of November to do this last year because in the United States that is when we celebrate Thanksgiving.

Now since we all just went through the Redeemed Challenge, I felt it was best not to do another Gratitude Challenge this year. I know everyone is busy and it takes time to keep up with the daily posts. But in case there was anyone out there who really wanted to walk through it anyway, I compiled all the posts from last year for you. If you do decide to do this, you will just need to grab a copy of my book, Every Day is a Gift, read the chapter for that day, and then come back to this post and click on the corresponding link.

For the Gratitude Challenge, I did not include a music video, like I did with the Redeemed Challenge. But I did have a YouTube video each day where I personally spoke about each chapter. If you decide to walk through this, I hope you enjoy it. Of course if you are not ready to tackle this anytime soon, you can still save this post and go through it at a later date.

However, I have good news! I hope to have gratitude themed posts throughout the month of November both on here and on Christians Read. I will try to post here every Saturday. And I always post on Christians Read every Thursday. So stay tuned for those!

Gratitude is an essential part of our walk with the Lord. When we take note of the blessings in our lives, we draw closer to God because we see His love everywhere around us. And when we see how much He loves us, provides for us, and cares for us – this in turn helps us to have more peace and joy in our lives.

I would like to leave you with a song which speaks to the heart of my book, Every Day is a Gift. The song is Counting Every Blessing by Rend Collective. Enjoy!

Gratitude Challenge Day 1

Gratitude Challenge Day 2

Gratitude Challenge Day 3

Gratitude Challenge Day 4

Gratitude Challenge Day 5

Gratitude Challenge Day 6

Gratitude Challenge Day 7

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Gratitude Challenge Day 10

Gratitude Challenge Day 11

Gratitude Challenge Day 12

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Gratitude Challenge Day 14

Gratitude Challenge Day 15

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Gratitude Challenge Day 18

Gratitude Challenge Day 19

Gratitude Challenge Day 20

Gratitude Challenge Day 21

Gratitude Challenge Day 22

Gratitude Challenge Day 23

Gratitude Challenge Day 24

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Gratitude Challenge Day 26

Gratitude Challenge Day 27

Gratitude Challenge Day 28

Gratitude Challenge Day 29

Gratitude Challenge Day 30

Behind the Blogger 2.0

 

Exciting news – I have received the Behind the Blogger 2.0 award! Thank you to Tina at God’s Kid Speaks for nominating me! This blog is a source of encouragement for me, and I highly recommend it!

 

The Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Answer all the questions down below.
  • Pingback to the creator: Ellyn @ Allonsythornraxx
  • Nominate 5+ bloggers you’d like to know more about, to do this tag.

 

The Questions

Why did you start blogging and why have you kept blogging?

I actually created my website more as an author site. I didn’t intend to write blog posts initially. But in time I found it was a good place to share things I was learning. Also, when the Christians Read blog had an opening for a new blogger, I spoke to the creator of that blog, Vicki Hinze, in regards to filling that roll. So, I also blog there every Thursday. I must say that blogging has helped my writing to improve. So, if you want to be a writer, I encourage you to just keep writing!

Strengths include:

(This is a song, so click the hyperlink!)

I’m just a nobody, trying to tell everybody, all about Somebody, who saved my soul

Weaknesses include:

I allow stress to get the best of me. And I allow the enemy to get in my head.

What is your favorite type of blog post to write?

Anything spiritual, pertaining to Jesus, and/or the Bible.

What are your Top Three favorite blog posts?

I loved all thirty of the posts from The Redeemed Challenge, which we just walked through in September.

What are some of your favorite things to do to relax?

Read. Watch Hallmark Christmas movies. Sit on the couch and chill. Go to a Florida Gators baseball game. Go to the mountains.

What are three of your favorite things?

Jesus, my hubby, and my dogs. (But I have a lot more things that I can list. Why only three? LOL.)

What are your hobbies outside of blogging?

I like to crochet but I haven’t done much of it in a long time.

What are your top three pet peeves?

I don’t know if these are my top three, per se. But this is what came to mind… Angry typers. (If you worked in cubicle land like I do, you would understand!) Someone who whistles in a public place seems suspicious to me. (LOL.) Inconsiderate drivers. (If you spent two hours a day on the road like I do, you would understand!)

What’s something your followers don’t know about you?

I am from Long Island, NY.

 

My Nominees (if they so choose to accept the mission):

Not Your Season

Transformation Place

Harvesting Hope

Not the Norm

 

Giving God Your Whole Heart – Now in Paperback

What a beautiful morning in my neck of the woods! I don’t know what the low was last night, but at 8 AM the temperature was 54°. A small taste of fall before the thermometer works its way up to a high in the upper 80s.

The Lord greeted us with a majestic sunrise. I always love seeing the sunrise and the sunset. When I see the sunrise peeking over the horizon, I see God wishing me a good morning. When I see the sky streaked with brilliant yellows, oranges, and pinks in the evening, I see God sending me a hug as I end my day.

God is always there, by our sides, every moment of every day. Unfortunately, there are times when we forget this and we allow obstacles to get in the way of our relationship with Him. When we try to work God unto our lives, we fail because of other priorities on our plates. The key is to make God the center of your life and then you can’t go wrong.

In my book Giving God Your Whole Heart, I talk about our relationship with God and how we can make that relationship stronger. This in turn will help you to find true fulfillment in life.

For those of you who were waiting for the paperback version of the book – it is now available on Amazon! It is also available on Kindle. (Sorry other ebook formats not available yet. I will keep you posted.)

So get yourself something good to drink, grab a copy of my book, and find a comfy seat to sit in and read. If the weather is nice where you are, then perhaps you will want to sit outdoors.

Whatever you wind up doing today, I hope you have a beautiful and blessed day!

Giving God Your Whole Heart

I have exciting news! I am happy to announce that I just released a new book, Giving God Your Whole Heart!

(Currently it is only available on Kindle. But the paperback version and other ebook avenues are coming soon. I will keep you posted as they become available.)

Currently the Kindle version is on sale for only 99¢!

This book touches on numerous things which are essential in our Christian walk. Yet due to our busy lives, we tend to push God to the back burner. In this book I will show you how to seek the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul. As a result, you will find true fulfillment in life.

As with all my books, I ask that you please leave a review wherever you purchased it. This helps me in many ways. For one thing, it helps gain further sales. But it also helps me to better apply the things that worked well in my future books.

Whether you decide to get this book or not, I still want to say a heartfelt “Thank You” to each of you. Having this community is so encouraging to me and helps me to keep going. Having you here alongside me on this journey is something I will always be grateful for!