As Close as your Shadow

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains–where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:1-2


Are you in a valley right now, staring at a mountain you did’t expect? Maybe the mountain seems so overwhelming you can’t imagine being on top, let alone getting on the other side. Is God really with you? Does He care about your struggle?

Imagine taking a deep breath and stepping back so you can see not just the mountain you are facing but the entire range of mountains. The psalmist prompts us in Psalm 121:1-2 to look higher than the massif to the One who created them.  Your help will be found there.

This psalmist later reminds us a few verses later, “The Lord watches over you.”  He is the “shade at your right  hand.” He’s as close as your shadow. Like your shadow, He will be with you every step of the way. He doesn’t want you to take even one step alone.

In sunlight your shadow is clear, but when things get gray and dark our shadow is hidden. It can be the same with God. Because we can’t see Him, we think He isn’t with us. He may appear to fade or disappear completely as the cloudy circumstances of life roll in. If you pay attention and focus your thoughts on Him, He will show up in a friend’s hug, a sweet word from a co-worker, an encouraging verse or devotional seemingly written directly for you, or even shade at your right hand in the blistering sun.

Can’t even muster the strength to look up right now? Your loving heavenly Father is close enough to place His strong hands under your chin and help you even lift your eyes to Him. Just ask Him, or recite this Belief to yourself over and over until you can lift your eyes unto the hills. I am continually surprised how declaring truth makes a difference in my mental strength and attitude.

“I believe God is involved in and cares about my daily life.”

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The Pinterest Life

Society pitts women against each other.

We constantly feel a need to compete; to be good enough in every area of our lives. We compare our cooking to the chefs on FoodNetwork. We compete with the constant barrage of half-naked women streaming into our home through catalogs. magazines, television, our phones and computers. They make us feel as though our body continually needs to be tweaked no matter what shape we are in. Other moms in our kids’ classes seem to do so much more than we do.  They are room moms, have full time jobs, have leadership roles at their church and/or Bible Study Fellowship. We have so many pins our Pinterest boards that if we were able to accomplish them all, we would never die. Our society, and even our churches, have adopted the mentality that women can even compete with men and do anything and everything they can do.

So, we fill our lives with activity, exercise, several Bible studies, serve at our church, try to cook full meals while running kids everywhere trying to be the perfect mom, be the perfect wife, work to provide more income for our families, and the list goes on.

That made me stressed just writing it.  What awful feelings were dredge up for me.  Like the fear I felt every time my child brought home a “project” from school —  a diorama (creating a 3-d scene in a shoe box from a book they had read ) or a costume created to go along with an oral book report, or creating a time line on poster board for history class, or worse, the dreaded science fair approaching. Ahhhhh!  I am not given to panic attacks — that is unless you make me go to a craft store.  Then all of a sudden, I can’t breathe, my head starts to spin out of control, and my hands start to shake.  I cannot get out of there fast enough. My “projectfobia” stemmed from the very real sense that the project I would help my child create was never going to measure up to the kids in the class who had that “craftee” for a mom. Now that’s competition!

Competition enters our life like a thief and robs us of joy if we aren’t careful. Jesus wants us to have an abundantly full life. “Doing it all” is not the “full” life promised in John 10:10.

The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; but I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

He didn’t want us to “fill” our life with competing, but desires us to experience life “full” of contentment and joy. In order to do that we need to live by His standards and not the world’s. Society tells us to add all these things to our resume, but God never intended us to be or do everything.

I just recently read a book by Jen Hatmaker, called For the Love; Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards.  Jen gives some straight talk about how our culture breeds wrong thinking, contrary to God’s intentions.  She says some things up until now I have only been brave enough to think.  I admire her honesty, courage and humor.

You will laugh, nod your head in agreement, be refreshed, and most of all begin to, as Jen says, “Break free of guilt and shame by dismantling the unattainable Pinterest life.”

Stop filling your life, and begin to experience the full life Jesus promised.


Shaky Hands; Weak Knees

The medical test results came back confusing. Baffled doctors is not what you want when they are talking about your body. More tests; then waiting. Putting one foot in front of the other, trying to get on with Christmas cheer and preparations. Waiting is the hardest place to be. When you get bad news your world goes dark, your focus drifts to the negative and it’s as if you are having an out of body experience. This was my experience this past week.

When you have times like these do you doubt that God is with you? It’s certainly easy to. For me it has been a week of having to continually decide to choose faith over fear. I know what God has said. . .I know He is with me and will never leave me (Isaiah 41:10),  but fear continually tries to sneak back in like early dusk of a evening in mid-winter, I realized that I was having to make a conscious choice; let fear consume me and rob me of the joy of this season, OR choose faith in the One who is faithful?  By choosing faith, I have been able to push fear out of the driver’s seat on this journey.

First day I woke up with this prayer on my lips.

Heavenly Father, This is the day you have ordained for me.  Whatever I must walk through I know you will give my spirit peace, allow me to draw from your strength and will hold my hand, for you are with me.  Thank you! Today I choose faith over fear.  Amen.

Yesterday, God brought me across this scripture:

Strengthen the weak hands, steady knees that give way. Say to those with a anxious heart, Be strong; fear not!. . .

Isaiah 35:3

How comforting to know our Heavenly Father pays attention to details like knowing my hands get weak; my knees buckle; my heart becomes anxious. He has promised to be with me and uphold me with his righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10) I believe He even caused me to read that particular verse on that specific day!

He sees yours too!  He is with you too!  He is interested in every detail of your life too! Isn’t it amazing that the God who created the universe and all that is in it, cares about the little details of our lives?

A few more tests to go, but the last news was good. I continue to pray my prayer every day, surrendering what I want to the will of the Lord.

At this time of year I can’t help but think of Mary, the mother of Jesus. I imagine her hands were more than a little weak, her knees buckled under her and her heart was extremely afraid as she heard from the angel that Messiah was to be born in her. She chose faith saying, ” I am willing to be used of the Lord. Let it happen to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:37)

Help me Father to trust you always.  You are who you say you are. Your righteous right hand upholds me. You are faithful!  May I keep my eyes on you, and allow you to do with me as you have planned. As you have displayed Your glory through Mary, will You do the same with me. Thank you for paying attention to every detail in my life; my shaky hands, weak knees and fearful heart. I believe you are involved in and care about my daily life. I am willing to be used of the Lord. Let it happen to me as you have planned. Amen


My Joy Journey

“Nona, do you smile all the time?” My granddaughter asked.  These words fell on shocked ears.  My response?  “I do when I am with you!” The shock came because one of my spiritual struggles has been that I allow my circumstances to rob me of my joy.  A few years ago, I started paying attention to all the times any little thing would aggravate me, or set me off, or just plain make me sad. I decided that my joy was not going to be hijacked anymore.  It hasn’t been a perfect journey, but it has improved. What made the difference for me?  Here are somethings I tangibly chose to do.

Paying attention really made a difference.  Whenever my joy would start to slip and it was evident in my attitude or words, I would catch myself, or my husband would give me “the look.”  You know what I mean.  I think every couple has these looks between them. (BTW, I had given him permission to do that.)  Accountability helps.

Secondly, I came to the realization that, as a Christian, my hope for a perfect world or life, cannot rest in the circumstances we experiences on this earth.  Instead hope has to be placed confidently in the next world, Jesus new Kingdom where He will reign as King.

Thirdly, I read John 15:11 “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”  Jesus is addressing His disciples here.  Jesus had complete joy and He wanted His disciples to experience the same. This joy brightened His path through his darkest days here on earth. And it is in me!

Jesus knew by this point He was facing the cross, I imagined how He must have felt and yet he said He had complete joy.  I don’t know about you, but I haven’t faced anything remotely close to the cross.  I doubt many of us have. Jesus could not have been focusing on the cross before Him.  Instead He must have focused on the crown He would have in eternity.  I understood that I needed to do the same – focus the eternal, not the earthly.

My granddaughter isn’t always with me to make me smile, but Jesus is.

Ever time you choose to smile genuinely, even though your circumstances are less than joyful, you give evidence that the same joy Jesus experienced in spite of the cross is in you.

Despite my circumstances, I feel inner contentment and understand my purpose in life.

Resources:  The Christian Life Profile Assessment tool.



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The Hebrew Day Planner

Several people have recently gone on my blog to look for The Hebrew Day Planner link.  I am so sorry that somehow that link was removed from the picture it was linked to.

Until I get it re-linked (which will require skill beyond my own) here is the link to The HDP so you can print it and try it for yourself.  So sorry for the inconvenience.  Hopefully I will get it fixed within the next couple of days.

The Hebrew Day Planner

HDP CoverIn Real Simplicity, Randy and I share a new vision for managing the hours in your day.   It is based on the priorities the Jewish people followed as they lived and worshiped. The Hebrew Sabbath began at 6 p.m. on Friday evening.  This was the most important part of the Hebrew family day–Their worship day began with dinner and relationships around the table.

The tool we offer is called the Hebrew Day Planner and it has 3 things to offer:

  • First of all it will enable you to put your planning for the relational season of your day first.
  • Secondly, it can help you become more productive focus on getting your workday to cease at 6 p.m.
  • Third, the HDP can enable you to sleep better than you ever have.
(For more information on these 3 benefits read Chapter 5 of Real Simplicity.)

The Hebrew Day Planner helps make the relational season of the day, the dinner table and beyond, the first priority in our daily planning by placing it at the top of page.  This highlights 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. as the hours to linger around the dinner table and waste the rest of the evening away with family, friends/neighbors.  If wasting the evening hours away with friends/neighbors or family sounds good to you, you might be closer than you think to a life of Real Simplicity.

We would like to introduce you to a broader sample of  The Hebrew Day Planner right here on this blog.  It is available in the upper right hand corner of this blog and can be downloaded to your computer for you to print off and use.  Simply click on it.

If you’re like me, when you first begin to use it, it might mess with your head.  It’s harder than you think to plan the last part of your day, first.  Keep at it though and it just might be what you’ve needed to help you not only enjoy your relationships more, sleep better than you ever have, and also make you more productive than you’ve ever been.

(For more details about why we developed this tool, read Real Simplicity.)

If you try it, please comment here and let me know what you thoughts.  I would LOVE to hear from you!

A Wake up Call

As I woke up today I am pondering some questions running through my head. How much time do I spend in prayer?  How much time do I spend actually thanking God when I pray???  Am I worshiping God in my prayer time or just giving Him my to-do list for the day?

These are some of the questions that filled the room at our Neighborhood Bible Study this week.  The discussion was going well, and we were all somewhat tritely admitting, “Yes, we probably do need to be more thankful.”  UNTIL, one of the ladies in our group posed this question.

What if you woke up this morning with only the things you had thanked God for yesterday?

The silence immediately following her question became quickly filled with an audible gasp as the question hit our consciousness.  We all knew it was the right answer, but until we heard the question poised in such a personal way did it really hit home.  Three days later I am still contemplating how I can become more thankful.  Not because I want to keep the things I have, but because I realize how much God has blessed my life and how little I deserve.

Everything we are or own belongs to Him.  James 1:17 tells us “Every good and perfect gift” comes from God our Heavenly Father, who spared nothing to have a relationship with us.  BUT do I live as though it is reality?

When my children come to me and thank me for things I do on a daily basis just because I love them — like preparing a meal, or running an errand for them, or making a phone call for them — it makes my heart smile.  I wonder if God’s heart smiles in much the same way when we thank Him for all the little things He does on a daily basis for us that most of the time we overlook.  I’m sure we all remember to thank Him for the big things, but what about all the blessings He gives us every day?

May our day be filled with praise and thanksgiving to a God who has given us ALL things both great and small!

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