December 30, 2018

A Year in Review... the Top Ten posts on the Blog.

 (according to stats, anyway!)


I hadn't really planned on doing a Year in Review post because --well, because I haven't really been as active on the blog as in years' past, and I'm allowing myself short sessions in front of a screen, pre-surgery!

And also because some of MY favorite posts didn't get much traffic or comments at all. Yet, it's always interesting for me to look back and see which posts created the most views or interaction.  I will say I miss the olden days of Blogging when the comment sections were full(er) and filled with community and back and forth conversation! I so value when you take the time to add a comment - short or long. It's such an encouraging reminder that these words we tap out here matter... and they make a difference!

So - without further ado, 
here are the TOP TEN posts of 2018:

December 27, 2018

When You Really Need a Do-Over... or more like a Do-Better! A OneWord365 post.

It's nearing the end of the year and if you've hung out around here in late December or early January, then you know that we do a few Annual posts...

* One is the post where I discuss All the Books... I already wrote that one and you can find it HERE.

* Another one is usually posted on January 1st or 2nd, and that is a Prophetic post revealing a Word (or phrase) and a Book in the Bible that I feel the Lord is highlighting for the year to come! This post comes after spending the first few hours of the New Year alone and cuddled in close, asking Him for His heart for what is to come. (So that will come soon!)

* And then there is this OneWord365 project that we have done for several years and counting now! (This is that post!)

Listen,  here's the deal:
2018 has been so full of Heavy and Hard (even more so than 2017... which was pretty terrible, if you recall!) and somehow I completely forgot about my OneWord... 

Well, it seems it forgot about me, too!
Or at least that is how I felt
when I went back to look it up!

December 21, 2018

God With Us... A Five Minute Friday post.

With only a handful of days left until Christmas, I hope and pray you are all done with all the madness and chaos... but I know chances are good that at least some of you are running around down to the last possible moment!

As Advent winds down, and our waiting is met with the fulfillment cries of a newborn King, this is our final Five Minute Friday link up of the year!

Here we go:

This is a Five Minute Friday post... which simply means I set a timer
and free write for five minutes flat on the one-word prompt: WITH


With Christmas being literally just days away...
of course, my mind and my heart go immediately
to the verse in Matthew 1 where we are told
that Jesus will be born and
His name shall be Immanuel,
God with us.

God WITH us... 
I mean...
Come on!

After all the waiting... 
the lamenting and longing through Advent
(and through those 400+ years of silence!)
God promises that He is about to
break through the darkness and
break through the dawn
and He is coming to cram Himself
into flesh and blood and
He will be known as Emmanuel
--which means, 'God with us'!

And all of Creation heaves a sigh of relief...

Because -even before we knew Him...
we've missed Him!

December 18, 2018

Ermagherd, Berks!!! (Books I Read - The 2018 Edition)

Hey Sweet Readers! 

Here we are at the end of another year!  Many of you know that 2018 was full of unexpected twists and turns for our little family and as much as we enjoy reading those in a Story... we don't always love living them so much in our own story, right?  Between all the changes and challenges, I also found myself grounded at home without the ability to strain (read: use!) my eyes for months at a time -- so these things all kept me off my reading game! Still,  you also know how I love me some books... (or 'berks!' as in, "Ermagherd! Berks!")

So this is the post where I take time to reflect back over the year and revisit some of my favorites! 

Honestly, I thought this list would be shorter but I did seem to up my reading during the months I was able to! And after a couple of surgeries in January, I hope to get back on track on reading all the things!

Here is a random list of books I read and loved this year! 


December 15, 2018

Be Still and Know... A Five Minute Friday post.

I see the word and think of something we just chatted about for our latest episode, "The Christmas Story - Gospel Edition" on The Changing Our Minds Podcast... and I also think about how I keep wishing all of this Stillness and Waiting would move along already!

Here we go:

This is a Five Minute Friday post... which simply means I set a timer
and free write for five minutes flat on the one-word prompt: STILL


When I see the one-word prompt,
my mind goes to an all familiar phrase...
one that we say often and one that has
felt oh so bossy as of late: 
"Be Still and Know that I am God." (~Psalm 46:10)
I mean... I used to love this verse!  
I used to relish in entering in a bit of
Stillness and Silence.  

I'm sure I will come to love it once again,
but over the past month or so
I have grown weary of waiting.

I've been pondering the 400+ years of silence
and it is not lost on me
--how my impatience is so silly
in light of my (relatively 'short') wait.  

And also there is this: 
I know deep down in my bones and my soul
that --always!-- He is worth that waiting...
He is worth the wait!

December 8, 2018

When Your Spiritual Equilibrium is Out of Balance... a Five Minute Friday post.

Hey there, sweet readers!  

I know this is December and the Christmas season
and this is the time of year where this little corner
is normally full of festive thoughts and good cheer.
However, I see the word prompt and I know
the chances of this post getting around
to Christmas Joy is slim... 
but Truth can always be found here... 
as well as honesty! So, here we go!

This is a Five Minute Friday post... which simply means I set a timer
and free write for five minutes flat on the one-word prompt: BALANCE


We were talking in our home group just the other night...
it was after spending an hour in prayer together,
where we simply speak out
whatever God puts on our hearts
and others come alongside in agreement
and lift our arms and hearts and heads.  

Oh, how we need each other!

We are a small band of brothers and sisters
with kindred hearts and we all have found ourselves
this year in some sort of an In-Between season...
a bit unsettled, and feeling a tad unsteady!

We shared how we seem to be
missing the Thrill of Hope... 
We are most definitely all
feeling the Weary World... 
yet we're still waiting for
the Rejoicing to begin! 

But isn't that Advent?
  It's the waiting... the hoping... 

And even though we know He came... 
even though we know He is still here now... 
we feel a bit out of balance and we are
longing for a bit of Wonder & Joy!

December 5, 2018

When You Need a Visual...

  and for Wonder and Joy to Abound!

I hope this holiday season has arrived for you with plenty of wonder and joy.

Maybe, for you, this really IS the most wonderful time of the year... or maybe Bah Humbug (rather than Merry Christmas!) is what is on repeat in your head.

Or maybe... just maybe... this season is slowly unfolding and you haven't (yet!) felt the presence of Peace or Goodwill! Perhaps Wonder and Joy haven't shown up and shown off, but I assure you --much like Advents' message... they are coming! 

Sometimes we just need to look for them... 
to seek them out... to ask the Lord to
open our eyes to see them!

Wonder and Joy... 
They tend to go hand in hand.

December 1, 2018

In Oceans Deep My Faith Will Stand... A Five Minute Friday post.

Hello there, sweet readers!

Can you even believe that today is the beginning of December? DECEMBER, people? 

I don't know about you, but I'm not so sure I'm ready for all that tends to come at us during this month! That may be because I am still 'grounded' awaiting surgeries in January, and we will not be doing many of our 'normal' December things this year because of that.  (Some of this makes me happy... and some of it, not so much!)

Anyway, December is here whether we are ready or not! So let's welcome it and kick it off together... This is a Five Minute Friday post... which simply means I set a timer and free write for five minutes flat on the one word prompt: DEEP


I see the word and immediately hear
the lyrics to one of my favorite songs... 
"You call me out upon the waters The great unknown where feet may fail And there I find You in the mystery In oceans deep, My faith will stand..."

"My faith will stand..."

I sing it over and over... 
Sometimes as a statement or declaration.
Other times, as a plea and a prayer!

Because through the last few years, --you guys!!!--
I have felt the 'Oceans Deep' part, for sure!

He has called us out upon the waters... He has!
We talk about it all the time
--how He calls us to be water walkers
and how we believe... 

November 21, 2018

The Difference of One Little Word - a Five Minute Friday post.

Happy Thanksgiving, sweet readers!

It's been quiet around here, I know.  Between taking a little break after All the Days in a row of writing posts in October, and battling some eye issues yet again that limit my screen time, I have gotten a bit quiet.  However, it's Thanksgiving and you KNOW this is my favorite holiday and I've missed Y'all. 

So... here we go... a Five Minute Friday post... which simply means I set a timer and free write for five minutes flat on the one word prompt: ONE


All I can think of when I see the word is how easy it is for us to lose focus and to forget... to exchange one little word that skews our perspective and affects our attitude!

We can let the Heavy and the Hard press against us and knock us off center --but never off-course.  

We can accidentally listen to lies that feel more like truth than to the Truth that feels so far away and impossible... 
But God... remember?

But God...

So as Thanksgiving approaches and right after it, all the crazy chaos that has somehow become Christmas, I remind myself to count blessings, one by one. 

To slow time, as Ann said, and to count gifts listing them off as I close my eyes and open my heart to all the ways He is Present and Thick all around me!

He is Present and Thick
all around you too, sweet friend!
I promise it is true
--whether it feels true or not!

November 9, 2018

When You Need a Break from all the Heavy Burdens... A Five Minute Friday post.

When You Need a Break
from all the Heavy Burdens... 
You head for the sea! 
(Well, if you are like us, anyway!)

This is a Five Minute Friday post, which simply means I set a timer and free write for five minutes flat on the one word prompt: BURDEN


As I am tapping these words out, I am ever so thankful that I don't really need my eyes to see where the keys are... I've been at this long enough to be able to type with my eyes closed - which is basically what I am doing right now.

I haven't been super quiet about this long(er than we thought, hoped for, or desired) In Between season and I've hinted at some of the Heavy and Hard that we have endured over the last few years.  

My natural bent towards counting gifts and focusing on the blessings... on the positive and not the negative... on the abundance and not the lack... can make it seem like our life is charmed (it is) and that everything goes our way (it doesn't... but we trust that somehow it goes HIS way and we know He tells us again and again that His ways are higher and better anyway, right?)

But you guys... 

This is a hard season packed full with heavy burdens and if we are not careful, we can forget that those --well, those are not ours to carry!

September 22, 2018

When Nothing Feels Complete... A Five Minute Friday post.


Hey there, Sweet Readers!  Oh my, how I have missed you!  How I have prayed for you... Even when words would not spill out in this space, you have remained in and on my heart and His!

Honestly - I had NO PLANS to do the whole 31 Days Challenge this year. To be fair, I'm still on the fence. I didn't even want to pray about it! I mean, Y'all know how He is bossy about it with me every year. I just wanted to not do it... because I'm tired... and He's quiet... and I'm still processing all the things that He is teaching me. And yet... it seems He may just have an opinion about whether or not I do it! I'm still going to have to chat with Him a bit longer before I decide yes or no!  

Until then... here I sit... ready to tap out something that will be somewhat of an offering --for you and for Him! Let's go! Our one-word prompt is: COMPLETE!


I am not sure, really, what is going on with me.

I pause longer than usual after I tap out that opening line... because it's true on all accounts.  I am not sure... and while I am consistently preaching about being authentic and vulnerable, this feels like a bit too much of both, thank you very much.  

But what I do know for sure is we are in one of those in-between spaces and we are being called to sit and wait... to not rush it! To Watch and See... before (or maybe so that) we can Taste and See! I've written about the not rushing recently and it seems we are still in the midst of this holding pattern. 

And it's fine.  It is... 
It's fine but
Nothing feels complete right now.

September 17, 2018

When Your Perfect Plan Doesn’t Pan Out... A Guest Post by Jennifer Dukes Lee

You guys...  I know it's been quiet around here again as of late. I'm sort of in another transition and it seems God is holding me still and silent, yet again! I'm not writing much --even in my own journals, and I'm not reading much lately either. 

However, I am on a couple of Book Launch Teams and, as always, the timing is perfect!

We don't have Guests here often, but when we do... well, you know it's gonna be good!

Please know that I have been blessed to be on Jennifer's book launch teams for each of her books to date and this one is just as good as the others... just as timely and impactful, encouraging and uplifting! And yeah, you're gonna want it! But don't just take my word for it... read on, and see for yourself!

When Your Perfect Plan Doesn’t Pan Out – and Why That Might Be a Good Thing

Back when I was a news reporter, I wrote a four-day series of articles on the state of rural America. 

I capped the series with a personal essay that said, in no uncertain terms, that rural life held nothing for me, even though I had grown up there. I had my own plans—and they would unfold in a city, end of story. Well, let me tell how that turned out. Right now, the view from my kitchen window is a farm.

Yep, I am the wife of an Iowa farmer. We’re raising corn, soybeans, pigs, … and two beautiful humans. This is also where God raised up my faith. 

God planted me in a place I never wanted, and that’s where I found what I really needed. From tiny seeds, my faith grew. This is the part of the world where Jesus captured my wandering heart. I shudder to think what would have happened if my take-charge self had steamrolled her way toward her own plans rather than surrendering to his. 

Today, I’m wearing a baseball T-shirt screen-printed with the words “Keeping It Rural.” God willing, I’ll be “keeping it rural” and keeping it real for many years to come on this patch of Iowa. But I know that I don’t get to decide any of that. It’s “all under control,” and that control is not mine. 

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). Let that verse fall upon your heart today. 

What are your plans? Do you ever sense that your plans don’t always perfectly align with God’s? 

As you consider your plans, I offer these gentle words: Tend your seeds wherever they may fall, my friend. You never know what might be growing, even now, in unexpected places. 

When we live surrendered to God, we don’t have to stop making plans. Instead, we hold those plans loosely. We may look into the rearview mirror one day and be relieved that our well-laid plans never came to pass. 

Let me give you an example. 

A few months ago, I found an old prayer journal that I kept for many years. I’d written down names and just enough details so that when I looked back on it, I remembered afresh what I had prayed for. I flipped through the pages to find evidence of broken marriages, severe illnesses, addictions, betrayals, prodigal sons. There were prayers for new jobs, church moves, and absurdly bold dreams. 

With the gift of hindsight, I can see the hand of God. He moved some mountains just the way I asked him to, and he moved some mountains farther than I thought possible. 
I also saw that he didn’t move every mountain. He didn’t part every sea. He didn’t fulfill my every desire and bless my every plan. And some of that stings. There are still unresolved conflicts, great unknowns, and ginormous “whys” when I turn the pages in my prayer journal. 

But through this journey, there are four things I’m beginning to believe about our prayers and our plans: 

1.     Not a single second is wasted when we take our plans and desires before the Lord. 

2.     We will never regret praying bigger than we dared think was possible—the kind of prayer that a smiling God might remark about when we get to heaven: “Wow, child. You remember what you prayed for way back when? That was one ambitious prayer!”

3.     We will someday thank God that he didn’t always do what we wanted. 

4.     He won’t move every mountain. He won’t part every sea. But we can trust him still. One day, his plan will make total sense. “As for God, his way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30). 

May these words encourage you as you hold on to your plans, and seek God for his.

 Jennifer Dukes Lee is the wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, and an author. She loves queso and singing too loudly to songs with great harmony. Once upon a time, she didn’t believe in Jesus. Now, He’s her CEO. Jennifer’s newest book, It’s All Under Control, and a companion Bible study, are releasing today! This is a book for every woman who is hanging on tight and trying to get each day right―yet finding that life often feels out of control and chaotic. 

Adapted from It’s All Under Control: A Journey of Letting Go, Hanging On, and Finding a Peace You Almost Forgot Was Possible by Jennifer Dukes Lee, releasing this fall from Tyndale House Publishers.


And now... for something super fun:

I’m so excited to be a part of a huge giveaway to celebrate the release of It’s All Under Control. Jennifer and her publisher, Tyndale, are giving away 50 copies of the book in celebration of its release! Enter below to win. Giveaway ends September 30. Winners will be notified by Tyndale House Publishers.

Enter to Win HERE!
Good Luck, Sweet Readers!

September 4, 2018

Sonship Over Ownership...


This has been a season of Quiet and of (once again) embracing a bit of Unproductivity.

Yeah... it's as fun as it sounds!

I mean, sure --at first, it IS great! Because we all tend to run at full speed and a lot of us are tired, Y'all! 

So a little breaky? Yes, please! 

But there is also this: Many of us can accidentally take a bit of our identity from all of our production and having things to show for how we spent our day!

So it gradually shifts from being fun to feeling like a really hard ask. The ask is to be small, to be still and silent.  To trust anyway or even though, and to be willing to wait... To lay down our giftings and calling and all the things that we are DOING that so easily sneak in to defining us, rather than letting how we are BEING actually reveal who we are.

Often times, we are encouraged to stand up tall in who we are and in what we can do.  Take confidence in your abilities and giftings - and I agree! All too often, especially as Christians --especially as Christian women, we are told to be humble and to almost dismiss or divert compliments or credit. Of course, humility is important and we all know that pride comes before a fall.  

However, I believe there is a balance is being confident, yet still giving glory to God and knowing how and why we are successful. It's because Jesus invites us into a partnership. We get to go about our days (our work, our ministry, etc.) and do whatever He has put before us to do. But we get to do it with Him!

With Jesus as our example, it seems that there is a growing movement to return to the old ways... to follow His footsteps and to participate both in the Doing and the Being. We must learn to embrace both! Each of these things is vital. We can not simply Be, and never get up and Do... and yet we have discovered that all the Doing, without simply Being too, will quickly lead to burn out and disillusion!

Something about Don't grow weary in doing good... Keep Doing... and make sure that you are setting aside time to just Be as well!  As many have said, remember that saying Yes to something also means saying No to something else. Make sure your Yes is worth it!

I believe this is something that we are learning in the church at large.

Sonship is the Next Step...


To read the full post, I'd love to have you join me HERE over at LifeLetterCafe where I share a bit about a recent encounter in prayer and what I felt God whisper to me about how we are called Heirs, not owners.

August 31, 2018

When We Can Not RUSH a Season... A Five Minute Friday post.


I see the Word prompt and I immediately know what He has been speaking to me... I'm amazed at how it all comes into clarity just at the sight of this one little word! It explains why it has once again been so quiet around these parts... and it reveals my longing and how even when my flesh wants what it wants... I have given Him full access and ownership of my heart - so I let Him be the Boss of me... even when I don't want Him to be!

Let's go! Our one-word prompt is: RUSH!


Immediately I think, "How many times have I wanted to RUSH right on to the next thing? How many times have I pleaded to just be released to move along already?"

Too many to count, lately! 
  I'd love to rush the transitions.

It's hard enough sometimes to come to the end of something... a season or a dream or a task... and know it's the end. To be willing to let it go or lay it down. That alone is a challenge... But then to be held in a loving embrace that forces all forward motion to cease? I mean... come on!  

This is not how our culture works!

We find
'success' and 'satisfaction' in our productivity and we often accidentally find our sense of identity wrapped up in what we do --even though we know it's really all about the being and not the doing.  

That's super great to SAY... but to actually allow Him to hold you still, and keep you small... hidden, even... That is something else altogether!

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