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Reflections

Three Ways to Tap into God’s Peace in a Storm

A blizzard pounded the state of Texas in an unprecedented fashion making February a month, the Lone Star state was utterly unprepared for.

The storm caused copious amounts of damage to the fragile Texan infrastructure. Water pipes froze. Power grids failed leaving millions in the dark. Massive windmills and turbines iced to a standstill. 

Destructive distractions

As the unrelenting freezing temperatures persisted, many different emotions surfaced. Darkness and the lack of drinking water pushed on the limited resources causing panic. Fear moved people from their daily routine to a state of survival in a matter of days.

Love paves a way for humanity to rise

As neighbors near and far began to open homes and volunteer supplies, the beauty of humanity in a storm began to glimmer amidst the chaotic destruction.

In the stillness, mercy and grace are amplified

Mercy was multiplied and grace painted the backdrop of the perfect storm that threatened lives and livelihoods.

In the forced stillness, the mystery of peace began to weave its ribbons over the raw emotions and weariness of disarray.

God’s peace is a gift to us present with us in the little moments of life and amplified during the times our souls feel bent by the heaviness of the storms around us. #3waystotapintoGodspeace@ShelleySinghAuD Click To Tweet

How can we tap into the gift of peace that God has readily abundantly blessed us with when the clamor of voices of the world drown out His voice?

3 ways to tap into God’s peace during a storm:

1.    Read and declare scripture aloud. The truth of God’s word is permanent despite the changes in our external world. Romans 10:17 says, faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God. 

2.    Meditate on the concept behind scripture. Matthew 8 reminds us that despite the tumultuous storms that come our way, God’s invitation for peace is still present.

And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. – Matthew 8:26, ESV 

Our voices can echo His peace rather than our emotions and fears #3waystotapintoGodspeace @ShelleySinghAuD . Click To Tweet

3.    Surrender feelings and emotions to God and open your heart to receive His peace over yourself, your loved ones and your surroundings. When we intentionally receive peace, we become containers of peace and will be able to provide peaceful assurance to our neighbors.

As children of God, we can become dispensers of peace, affecting change in our environments and ultimately, becoming the peacemakers we were always meant to be. 

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Book review

Soundtracks book review

By Jon Acuff

Freedom from overthinking

As a recovering overthinker, I appreciate this new book release by Jon Acuff.

The right tools

He provides practical wisdom, insights and direction of how we can take the negative soundtracks or thought patterns in our minds and replace them with a more positive and uplifting alternative.

He uses the principle of neuroplasticity with creativity and comical antidotes to equip you with the tools needed to redesign your thought process for a new blueprint for your life. This book will help you retrain your brain,… Click To Tweet

Despite being a slightly heavy topic, Jon takes a delightful approach that make any reader feel they can steer their thoughts in a new and healthier direction.

Move from worry to wonder

If you are looking to live a more fulfilling life towards the directions of your dreams and are seeking freedom from the internal rhetoric of fear, this book is for you.

Now available on major book retailers including the audiobook version with Jon’s entertaining tone.

Categories
Prayer

Resurrection Sunday

Magnitudes of mercy

Victorious life

May you slow down this season and embrace the power of our victory through Christ.

May these days hold moments and celebrations that are stark reminders of transformative truths.

May the truths of Holy week become tangible to you. Truths that we may tend to forget amidst the busy days or unanswered prayers.

May you find the sacredness of the magnitudes of mercy in the finished work of the Cross.

May you hear whispers of truth that our lives are forever imprinted with the newness of life.

A resurrection prayer

I pray this season ushers in resurrected hope for your life and loved ones. May you be awakened each moment of each day, to the truth of our freedom of the resurrected life as we remember the power of the cross. In Jesus' Name,… Click To Tweet

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Book review

Prey Tell

New book release by Tiffany Bluhm and early review

A historical overview

This book is a fresh look of compelling truths that shake you out of complacency about the role and position of women in systems including in the church today.

The role of women and challenges faced today

This book provides timely truths that will help dismantle unhealthy gender imbalances that have been present for decades. It is full of real world examples of many women who were silenced while male abusers were not held… Click To Tweet

The injustice of those silenced

In a time where many Christian male leaders have abused power without accountability rather than keep women safe, this book will provoke you to remember the truth of the gospel is to empower women and give back a voice to those wrongly silenced.

This book will provide you with practical steps for how to release women out of their silence into the realms of empowerment, and ultimately, freedom. #preytell @tiffanybluhm @ShelleySinghAuD #newbookrelease. Click To Tweet

PreyTell can be ordered at all major retailers including amazon here

Tiffany Bluhm is an author and speaker. This is her third book and she can be found online on instagram at :TiffanyBluhm and twitter @TiffanyBluhm

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Uncategorized

Signs of Spring, Bountiful bluebonnets

Signs of Spring, Bountiful bluebonnets Click To Tweet

Photo credit: Shelley Singh

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Guest post

Forming Foundations, Freeing Fears, Finishing Forgiven

Guest post with Pastor Arlyn Rusche

Manuals, Instructions, Directions, Expectations – all-ways in which we seek to set in place “how-to” elements. 

Whether a new piece of furniture, a new device, or a new job, there usually is some form of a manual, set of instructions/directions, or expectations.  These are established to help guide us as we put items together, utilize the devices, or engage in a particular line of work.  Sometimes, the challenge can be how not to get so wrapped up in “how to do something” that we miss the experience of owning the products/devices or the opportunity to use our gifts. 

“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me’ (Luke 10:40)” #guestpost… Click To Tweet

Martha’s efforts to essentially “form the foundation” for Jesus’s visit by making sure all preparations were set in place, Martha became overwhelmed.  She was frustrated that her sister was sitting at Jesus’s feet instead of assisting with the preparations. 

Do we often focus so much on the “preparations” that we miss out on the event itself?

“Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, ‘you are worried about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her’ (Luke 10:41-42)”

It may appear our role in this life is to form the foundations and getting everything in its place.  Yet, Jesus confirms for Martha that there is something better than the worries and concerns of setting the foundation.  Just as Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, we are called to let go of our fears and worries and surround ourselves in Jesus’ presence. 

Jesus has laid the more substantial foundation for us, and that cannot be taken away.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14)”

Our foundation in this life has been formed not by our own efforts, but by God through Jesus Christ.  As we sit with Jesus, the fears and darkness inside of us are set free, and we experience the fullness God desires for us.  Finally, we are redeemed through Christ’s death and resurrection, and in the forgiveness of our sins, we finish our lives, not as an ending but the beginning of a new life with God that will last for an eternity.

May we seek the Lord as our foundation builder.

May we seek the Lord to experience freedom from our fears.

May we seek the Lord to finish this life forgiven and redeemed.

About the author: Pastor Arlyn Rusche is an Ordained ELCA Lutheran Pastor.  He currently serves as Associate Pastor of Worship & Family Ministry at Trinity Lutheran Church in Chambersburg, PA.  In his free time, he enjoys working out, learning about wellness and music.  You can follow him on Instagram: @activefaithfearconqueror or Facebook: @ArlynRusche

Categories
Guest post

Removing shame from broken family relationships

By Denise Pass and Shelley Singh

Removing shame from broken family relationships happens in our daily lives as we live with one another. How we treat one another reveals whether we are honoring or shaming our family members.

ShameRX:

There is no shame in being an imperfect family, God loves families through broken relationships. #Shamerx #Shameoffyou @TheDenisePass @ShelleySinghAuD #healingbrokenfamilyrelationships. Click To Tweet

Scripture:

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” —1 John 3:1

As I obediently prepared tea for my mother and my visiting aunt, I did not think twice about the process. Tea has been a family tradition in our home for as long as I could remember, and I learned quickly how to prepare tea for my family with their quirky desires.

As my aunt watched my tea preparing ritual with close scrutiny, I realized she had her own opinion about the process. As she began to unleash her distaste hastefully, I found myself protesting to defend myself.  I ignored my mother’s warning look from the corner of my eye.

Shame Reducer: Think Before You Speak

Before I could open my mouth again, my mother asked me to come outside the house to talk with me privately. As we stepped outside, I got a mini lecture on being respectful to elders even if I did not agree with my aunt’s methods.

Although I adored my mother, I felt the internal struggle of familial conflict that each family faces at some point. I felt the strained tension hanging in the air and I took a breath and nodded silently. I did not want my mother to feel ashamed of my rebuttal to my aunt and decided to proceed peacefully.

Shame Reducer: Humbly value others above yourself.

Healing family ties is not about reacting but facing feelings.

When you are accused or feel a strong emotion with a loved one, it is easy to get carried away by intense emotions. Yet, God calls us to recall His truths to use as instruments of healing in relational conflicts. Family relationships are delicate and as we process our emotions through God’s steady love, it is possible to resist the urge to react harshly.

Shame Reducer: Pursue peace, not saying your peace.

God can teach us how to be a peacemaker in our family.

Although our flesh wants us to be reactive, God calls us to be peacemakers. When family conflict arises, we can take hold of that peace, slow down and surrender our reactions. As we grow in becoming peacemakers, God’s heart… Click To Tweet

God desires healthy, whole families.

It can be hard to face the shame in broken family relationships; particularly when others can see this brokenness so vividly.

God loves imperfect families.

As we constantly apply principles like forgiveness, grace and release bitter emotions, space for the slow growth of healthy, whole family relationships will begin to take root and eventually, blossom.

To read more about the shamerx blog go here and to read about seeing deep ministries, go here

To order Shame off you book by Denise Pass, you can order it here.

Categories
BOOK PREVIEW

Are you Really OK?

By Debra Fileta

I am excited to share the introduction to Debra’s new book, are you really ok? with you today on the blog. Enjoy the introduction and go ahead and then Pre-Order and get ALL your pre-order bonuses at AreYouReallyOK.com (free audiobook, free journal, and more!)

INTRODUCTION: You’re Not as Healthy As You Think You Are

You’re not as healthy as you think you are. 

That’s a presumptuous sentence for the start of a book, but if you’ve continued reading to sentence two even after reading sentence one, then you’re exactly the kind of person I want to be reading along. Because the conversations that we’re about to have throughout the chapters of this book need to be had with people who are not easily offended. They need to be had with people who are ready to reflect, to question, to grow. People who aren’t afraid to be challenged or pushed out of their comfort zone. People who are ready to redefine their view of themselves and who God has made them to be. People who are ready to face the hard questions and dig deep to answer: Are you really okay?

And if you’ve made it this far, you’re likely that kind of person. You’re ready. I can just feel it. You’re ready to stop being content with the skewed version of health that has rubbed off on us from this culture—the version that can look so good on the outside yet fail to actually deal with what’s happening on the inside. The version that has gotten so good at presenting its picture-perfect self on Instagram yet fails to acknowledge its flaws and struggles and failures. The version that presents the façade that everything is fine, when really, everything is not. I’m beyond ready to stop playing this game and to acknowledge that just because we’re Christian doesn’t mean we’re healthy. No, not even close. 

According to a long line of psychological studies, we humans have a tendency to see ourselves as better than we are. Social scientists call this the better-than-average-effect.[1] When asked how well they drive, how good of a friend they are, or how morally they behave, the majority of people will rate themselves as better than the average. Mathematically speaking, this can’t be the reality—half of all people will fall below the median. So, not only do people think of themselves as better than average, but they think better of themselves than they actually should. In other words, they think they’re doing okay when, in fact, they might not be.

It was hypothesized that people view themselves as above average only when they’re higher in socioeconomic status or only in certain groups that actually are above average in certain areas, so another study was performed to test the effect on a group of prisoners. Prisoners were asked to assess their view of themselves with regard to their kindness and morality, comparing themselves to nonprisoners in their personal assessment. Sure enough, the prisoners affirmed the better-the-average effect shows no bias: They saw themselves as above average in both kindness and morality in comparison to nonprisoners.[2] It doesn’t matter if you’re a pastor or a prisoner because according to human nature, you likely think of yourself as better than you actually are. And this applies to every area of our life. It applies to our actions and choices, our feelings and emotions, our behaviors and interactions, our thoughts and ideas, and everything in between. Just because we’re Christians doesn’t mean we’re healthy. And just because we think we’re doing okay doesn’t mean we really are. 

We live in a culture that has set us up to put our best face forward. A culture that deceives us into believing that the better we appear, the better we are. But just because we seem to have it together on the outside doesn’t mean that we have it together on the inside. And just because we’ve come to Jesus at some point in our journey doesn’t mean we’ve magically achieved perfection.

 We need to stop assuming health and start pursuing health, living intentionally toward health on every level. #areyoureallyok #bookrelease #freeintroduction @DebFileta @ShelleySinghAuD. Click To Tweet

Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength

In the book of Mark, Jesus was asked to explain what the greatest commandment was out of all the commandments. Jesus answered, “The most important one…is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’” (Mark 12:29-30). One thing I love about His direct answer is that it covers every single base. Loving God is not just something we do in our hearts. Loving God is something we have to do with every layer of who we are: with our emotions, our spirit, our thoughts, and our body. Loving God is a holistic experience. It requires every part of who we are to be in alignment with every part of who He is.

As Christians, we have a tendency to put all our focus on loving God with our spirit. We have spiritual conversations, we hear spiritual messages, we sing spiritual songs, and we read spiritual books. We can get so focused on our time in God’s Word, our prayer life, and our weekly church gatherings that we fail to take inventory of the health of every other part of our lives. What about our emotional health? What about our mental health? And what about our physical health? Are we making space in our lives for these important considerations? Because if we’re not loving God with all of those aspects of ourselves, can we say that we’re loving Him well? If we’re struggling in one or two of those areas, could that struggle be impacting the rest?

I always say that healthy people make healthy relationships, but you know what? The reverse is also true. Unhealthy people make unhealthy relationships.

Becoming A Christian Doesn’t Fix Everything

            In the church culture we’ve created, we falsely assume that becoming a Christian fixes everything. Maybe we don’t actually say those words out loud, but we have this latent belief that we’re going to have it together emotionally, spiritually, and mentally just because we’re walking with the Lord. Yet we don’t apply that mentality to our bodies, do we? We don’t assume that just because we come to Jesus, all of a sudden we’re going to have just the right BMI, our blood pressure will be just right, and all of our physical flaws will disappear.

My friend Pastor Levi Lusko, affirmed this when I visited Fresh Life Church: “We don’t get a six pack when we get saved or biceps when we get baptized.” We’d never make that crazy assumption with our physical health, and we often do the work that needs to be done to meet our physical health goals. But then why do we make that assumption with regard to our emotional and mental health? Why do we fail to get educated and set goals from the inside out? Why do we so severely neglect taking inventory of what is actually going on inside of us? 

Taking Inventory of Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength

            If we’re to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we need to align ourselves with His best for us in all these areas. Taking inventory of each of those areas is of vital importance, and that’s the work we’ll be doing throughout the chapters of this book. Chapter by chapter, page by page, we’re going to take the time to dig deep and ask ourselves how we’re really doing in our emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical health. We’re going to start living intentionally toward health, and not just assuming we’re okay.

That doesn’t mean we’re ever going to reach perfection, but we do need to have a proper perspective of who we are versus who God has called us to be. We need to see the gap between our flesh and God’s Spirit and do whatever is in our power to move in His direction. Our personal health and development impacts absolutely everything. It impacts the quality of our life, it impacts our relationships, it impacts our marriages, it impacts our families, it impacts our ministries, and most importantly, it impacts our callings. We need to be strengthened and empowered to do what God has called us to do with no hindrance.

How often have we seen Christians in the media fall from the height of leadership and into sin and struggle? How often do we see seemingly strong people wreck their marriages and their families and their ministries because they’ve chosen adultery or addictions? How many more suicides, how much more drug abuse or alcoholism do we need to see before we realize that maybe we ourselves are susceptible to sin and struggle?

Going from unhealth to health is a journey, just as going from health back to unhealth is a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s all about the small steps we take each and every day. Those steps create the roads that shape the maps of our lives. We don’t go from 0 to 100 in a day. And that’s good news for all of us because if we can’t go from 0 to 100 in a day, then we also can’t go from 100 to 0 in a day. The journey toward health is slow, steady, and stable. It takes our unrelenting awareness and our unhindered intention to do the next right thing, after the next right thing, after the next right thing. We do what we can do, and trust God to continue doing the rest. 

God has been lighting a fire in my bones lately regarding the message of personal health among Christians and the importance of coming to terms with who we are and how we’re really doing mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. But just recently, this fire got to a place where it singed me. Sometimes the very thing you are passionate about is the very thing that ends up causing you the most pain. Because usually, our passion is birthed out of our pain. That statement was beyond true for me one recent summer as I found myself walking through a level of anxiety and depression and physical illness that I’ve never experienced before. I have so much more to share about this life-altering experience through the chapters of this book, but I want you to know that being a licensed professional counselor doesn’t make me immune to emotional and mental distress, just like being a pastor doesn’t make you immune to spiritual attack, or being a doctor doesn’t make you immune to physical illness.

If we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, then it makes sense that the enemy—the father of lies and destruction—would do whatever He can to ensure that we face struggle in our heart, soul, mind, and strength (John 8:44). The core areas in which you are to love God are the core areas that are susceptible to struggle. We shouldn’t be surprised by the struggle. Instead, we should be prepared! The enemy is going to use whatever he can to get us down and out, but by God’s power and through His strength, we have what it takes to face those struggles and come out stronger on the other side—mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically in Jesus’s name.

Coming to Jesus doesn’t fix everything. It doesn’t fix our high cholesterol levels, and it doesn’t fix our lonely childhoods, and it doesn’t fix our proclivities toward fear and anxiety. That fix will only come when the trumpet sounds and when all things are made new. But in the meantime, in this life, the Spirit gives us what we need to come face-to-face with our struggles and declare that Christ will be victorious in the end (1 Corinthians 15:57)!

Over the course of the next 12 chapters, we are going to dive deep into every aspect of personal health. We’re going to talk about preparing your heart, your soul, your mind, and your strength. We’re going to take inventory of your emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical health. We’re going to ask the hard questions and face the raw answers because we’re ready to stop pretending that just because we’re Christians means we have it all together. We’re ready to begin bridging the gap between who we actually are and who God has called us to be. We’re ready to live intentionally toward emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical health.

I know you’re ready too. You’re exactly the kind of person I want to come with me, and I’m honored to be taking this journey by your side. So, here we go. Let’s do this.

Pre-Order Are You Really OK? today and receive two bonus gifts including: the FREE AUDIOBOOK read by Debra, as well as a FREE Are You Really OK? JOURNAL filled with all the questions you need to answer as you begin the process of getting healthy from the inside out! CLICK HERE TO PRE-ORDER (AreYouReallyOK.com). #relationships #newbookrelease

DEBRA FILETA is a Licensed Professional Counselor, national speaker, relationship expert, and author of Choosing Marriage and True Love Dates, and Love In Every Season and Are You Really OK?. She’s also the host of the hotline style Love + Relationships Podcast. Her popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, reaches millions of people with the message of healthy relationships. Connect with her on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter or book an online session with her today!


<T2>Notes

Introduction: You’re Not as Healthy as You Think You Are

[1] Mark D. Alicke and Olesya Govorun, “The Better-than-Average Effect,” The Self in Social Judgment (New York: Psychology Press, 2005), 83-106.

[2] Rosie Meek, Mark D. Alicke, and Sarah Taylor, “Behind Bars but Above the Bar: Prisoners Consider Themselves More Prosocial than Non-Prisoners,” British Journal of Social Psychology 53, no. 2 (June 2014): 396-403, doi: 10.1111/bjso.12060.

Categories
Guest post

Healing from the shame of a failed marriage

By Denise Pass and Shelley Singh

Scripture verse: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” -Psalm 147:3

I stared down at my empty index finger. It did not seem fair. I felt dazed and confused at the loss of my broken marriage.  The heaviness seemed to hang over me wherever I went and felt as heavy as a ton of bricks.

Indeed, this breakup before my first anniversary could not be real.

Yet, it was. I had no idea how to begin to pick up the pieces of my shattered life and dreams. God is patient with us during times of grief, reminding us, He provides the strength to take small steps forward with a peaceful reassurance that waters our weary souls.

A failed marriage is a season, not the end of a life

A broken marriage may seem like the end of life, but life is composed of seasons, including valleys.

Shame will attempt to stick when a marriage breaks down, yet God's redemptive power has the final say in our lives. #ShameRX @ShelleySinghAuD @TheDenisePass Click To Tweet

Truth brings transformation and wholeness

Exposure to God’s word began to help me develop slow transformation by renewing my mind and breaking thought patterns that attempted to derail my hope.

Processing the pain will break patterns of shame

There is a time and place to process grief so that shame cannot gain a stronghold in thought patterns. God ‘s grace, comfort and truth will be our biggest weapons in fighting the onslaught of lies that shame tries to entrap us in… Click To Tweet

If you have suffered from the heartache of a marriage that dissolved, know that God is still writing your story, so shame off you!

To read more about the shamerx blog go here and to read about seeing deep ministries, go here

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Book review

Living Unbroken: Reclaiming Your life and Your Heart After Divorce by Tracie Miles -Book review by Shelley Singh

I had the pleasure and privilege of serving on this launch team. I received an early copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

This book is the gem I needed years ago when I walked through the valley of sorrow that accompanies a divorce. The warmth of Tracie’s words emanates from each page with a gentle strength that will journey with you until the last page.

As Tracie offers wisdom, it is evident that she has personally navigated with purpose and pain the cycles and patterns which surface from the trauma of a significant loss. #livingunbroken #newbookrelease #bookreview @traciewmiles… Click To Tweet

Many people who struggle through a divorce do not have the support system as they try to navigate the confusion and emotional upheaval that a loss brings along with the practical implications for dealing with a new life transition.

This impactful resource will offer timeless wisdom and equip you with relatable strategies to reclaim your life.

As Tracie describes the stages of grief, she offers hope and reassurance that acceptance of the loss will be found through the recovery of self and identity.

Her words are based on sound biblical truth that God is the source of our true identity, a truth essential for the soul’s healing after a loss on the road to wholeness.

Her tender rebukes will awaken you to new possibilities as you wrestle with your own personal journey.

Tracie’s words will peel off the layers of shame, fears, and negative thoughts that accompany the devastating loss inherent in divorce.

God is your biggest supporter of starting anew. Tracie Mile's new book, Living Unbroken, is a refreshing read with timeless wisdom for anyone who wants a fresh start after the painful loss of a divorce. #newbookrelease… Click To Tweet

Tracie’s voice is a gentle but clear reminder that the sacred process of surrender sets us up to receive the comfort God has to offer us.

He desires our freedom to pursue a new life armed with hope and courage.

This book will leave you with a sense of empowerment to take the next few steps towards a brighter, full life.

Tracie’s new book can be purchased at all major book retailers such as Proverbs 31, barnes and nobles and amazon here

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Book review

The power of writing it down book review by Ally Fallon

The power of writing it down: A simple habit to unlock your brain and reimagine your life book by Ally Fallon

This inspiring book delves into how the power of words can change our stories' narrative to usher healing by utilizing the power of perspective. #thepowerofwritingitdown @allisonfallon @ShelleySinghAuD #bookreview Click To Tweet

The premise of the book is writing can be instrumental in helping process pieces of your life as you navigate the journey to wholeness.

Personal takeaways

This book spoke to me personally on many levels. Ally covers the neuroscience of rewiring the brain and the potential to change our thought process. This book is a stark reminder of the life changing nature that story telling can bring.

The right words will help you see more clearly from new angles. This pursuit of expressive words can allow a healing of the disconnected parts of the fragmented self. Healing of the self can lead to healing of other areas of life.

The power of writing as Ally insinuates lies wherein the transformative nature of self-discovery and the potential to influence others.

Ally writes with a tender flair, weaving in comical and vulnerable tones as she learns to share how words and writing have helped her soul make space for grace. Click To Tweet

I recommend this book for all ages since I feel that expression is pertinent for self growth and this book is one that will remain in my personal arsenal to remind myself of the facets of gifts that writing brings.

A few of my favorite quotes include:

“Your influence can be wide or deep.”

“The only way we will ever have a shot at speaking to other people is if we start by speaking to ourselves.”

“The writing practice will grow your heart.”

I have thoroughly enjoyed being a member of the launch team and am pleased to say it is one of my favorite books on writing because Ally’s words were deeply challenging.

The power of writing it down: how a simple writing practice can be ordered through major book retailers. Ally fallon is an author, speaker and teacher. She can be found www.findyourvoice.com where you can learn about writing prompts, her books and courses to help you in your writing journey.

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Guest post

A Christmas reminder

By Manisha Enoch

Haven’t we always longed for a true friend? Each of us feel the need of that one person who we could share our heart out with and enjoy our time and resources. Somebody who we could always rely on and somebody who would understand us, our situation no matter what. Well we do have a friendship that is offered to us, a reliable one, where our friend is always there in our need and so is our friend indeed. GOD is our friend, Yes indeed He is. Seems far-fetched but its true!

We are privilege to have friendship with GOD, we made for friendship with our FATHER. To have an intimate relationship with Him is one of our greatest joys! To experience his friendship is a joyride that helps us to get to know Him from GOD our master to GOD our friend. GOD’s WORD encourages us to accept JESUS not just as our redeemer and saviour but also our friend.


No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). This honour that has been bestowed upon us as transcended from a journey of Christ as our Master to Christ our friend. This is the privilege that we have that JESUS has called us friends. To be called his servant is beautiful, but to be called his friend is overwhelming. GOD’s Word says that JESUS calls us friends.

We do expect for our friends to prove themselves to us, we don’t just make friends and call them like family for nothing.

JESUS gave us the greatest proof of all, he proved it on the cross. He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Click To Tweet

To look at his sacrifice, to understand the depth of what he did for us will bring us to an understanding of how faithful a friend he really has been, his compassion for us and that he is irreplaceable as a friend. To save his friends, he went through the circle of fire, to save his friends he paid their debts.

How beautiful is the heart of JESUS that he died for his friends!
We love and honour His friendship, we do not take Him or his sacrifice casually. We want to always love and adore this friend we have in JESUS, we want to magnify his finished work.

We want to acknowledge his acceptance of us, despite of us being undeserving. We want to always be grateful for his grace! We now enjoy his affection and authority.

He knows us better than we know ourselves, and he loves us more deeply than anyone else ever could. We are closer to his heart than anyone has ever been to ours.

So let’s water our friendship through communion. A medium where we experience Him and everything that he has done. In that very medium lies so much. A welcoming, a conversation, a relationship, a developing ongoing love, an understanding and an acceptance.

Oh, what a friend we have in JESUS, always lifting our spirits, never a dull moment with HIM. If we are drawn in the failures of this world, he strengthens us and turns our sorrows into joys! His love is not conditional and HE’s the friend who’s there till the very end!

To read more from Manisha’s blog, from her ministry house of authority, Mumbai, India, please go here.

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The gift of saltiness by Jennifer Elwood

Guest post with author of Counting up to Christmas: The gift of our True Father

 “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” – Luke 14:34, ESV. #CountinguptoChristmas #Jenniferelwood Click To Tweet

Have tantalizing aromas been trailing from your oven this year? When the world shut down last March, we rummaged through the pantry for ingredients and spent lots of meaningful time in the kitchen together. Did you bake too? When I look back, it seems baking became the official pastime of 2020.

As a family, we are practiced up for the upcoming holiday season.

The tasty morsels we create to celebrate holidays delight our tastebuds. Christmas doesn’t feel the same without them. Our family enjoys baking Christmas treats to bless our neighbors. We pack up the yummies in festive boxes and visit the people who live nearby. Our family lives up a hill in the middle of a pasture. It helps to bridge the gap between us and our neighbors when we deliver gifts to share around tables. I’m not sure what we will do this year, but we will continue some version of our tradition.

 As I wrote my new book, Counting Up To Christmas: 24 Gifts from the Gospel of Luke, I discovered that Jesus appreciated a good meal shared at a table too. Throughout the Gospel of Luke, we encounter Jesus during eight… Click To Tweet

Saltiness is a gift from Scripture that opens when we read Luke 14. At the time Jesus uttered Luke 14:34, His audience had an intense understanding that salt represented their covenant with the Lord, which initiated when their ancestors left slavery behind in Egypt.

To further open this gift, let’s examine how this covenant originally tasted:

            “You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.” – Leviticus 2:13, ESV

Salt, a preservative, symbolized permanence. In antiquity, this represented the binding, unchanging character of a covenant. Historically, these grain offerings, in the form of unleavened bread, sustained the Israelites during the first Passover. This flat, salted bread provided the energy needed to flee Egyptian captivity and cross the parted Red Sea towards the Promised Land of Israel. Imagine the leftover sensation of salt lingering in the mouths of the fleeing Israelites, reminding them of God’s presence and promise as they escaped enslavement.

As believers, we continue to represent the covenant of salt because we are the salt of the earth! (Matthew 5:13) We are a gift of seasoning, bringing intensified flavor to the world. #guestpost #Jenniferelwood Click To Tweet

Believers should be characterized by the taste experience of a particular kind of salt—freshly smoked. The flavor of this salt is unusual and has a particularly exhilarating taste. Its flavor lingers uniquely, perhaps because it is unusual when compared to table salt.

I want to represent saltiness to those around me, particularly as we approach a more-challenging-than-usual Christmas season. I pray the Lord will use us to season others in a way that is uncommon and lingering. Let’s be the salt and sprinkle others with deliciously flavored words that point to the best spiritual meal ever—Jesus, the Bread of Life. (Luke 14:34, Mark 9:50)

Prayer:

We praise You, God, for reflecting Yourself in creation, even in something as simple as salt. Thank You for extending Your covenant of salt to us as believers. We pray that we would be intensely savory salt to those around us. Please help us to constantly point others to our main spiritual course: Jesus. Amen.

It is my honor to invite you to Count Up To Christmas in the Gospel of Luke with my new book and a fun, encouraging on-line community. Here are the links you need.

And, I’ll finish off this post with a recipe for smoked salt. If you are looking for an encouraging, unique gift, fire up the BBQ and make sure to smoke enough for yourself as well! (It really is delicious.)

To purchase the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Counting-Up-Christmas-Gifts-Gospel/dp/1735791008/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3V235X1ZLRRRS&dchild=1&keywords=counting+up+to+christmas&qid=1604767964&sprefix=counting+up+to%2Caps%2C314&sr=8-2

Freebies for the book, including the complete Counting Up To Christmas Recipe Book subscriber benefit, at: http://www.jenniferelwood.com

You can read my devotional review Counting up to Christmas: 24 Gifts from the Gospel of Luke by Jennifer Elwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars




Like many others, I feel the joy of the holidays and the pull to complete every task. During this season, I look for a devotional to help me linger longer in God’s presence and provoke me to remember the season’s true beauty.
If you are looking for a devotional this advent, I highly recommend Jennifer Elwood’s Counting up to Christmas, based on Luke’s book.

This devotion is divided up into chapters based on a topic that corresponds to the daily reading from the chapter of Luke. I particularly enjoyed the vivid pictures from Israel and the concept of receiving a new daily gift from God. This sparked a fresh sense of peace and wonder for the holiday season and is a reminder that God’s Word is the best gift. Inside His word, there are many endless treasures to discover and this devotional will set you on that journey. Grab a copy today and soak in the peace that comes from receiving priceless gifts from the heart of the God.


https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/100w all my reviews“>here

Counting Up To Christmas FB group:

Counting Up To Christmas on Instagram:

An online shop with “true peace” gift items: https://wood-knox.myshopify.com/search?q=Luke

To read more about Counting up to Christmas on Jennifer’s blog, click here

A Recipe for Smoked Salt

Ingredients:

Salt (I prefer pink Himalayan because it is such a beautiful color)

Wood chips (The best flavor comes from Applewood)

Equipment:

A foil pan

A few sheets of tin foil

A charcoal grill

  1. Choose your salt. Pink Himalayan, Kosher, and Maldon salts are types I have tried. Maldon salt is flaky and resulted in some pretty flavorful salt. Consider that any salt you take the time to smoke will be delicious. If you plan to give some away as Christmas gifts, pink salt is quite lovely.
  2. Choose your wood chips. When I gleaned information about the best type of wood chips on the internet, there seemed to be a consensus that apple wood made the most delicious salt. The first time, we used cedar chips, and the second time we used mixed wood pellets. The cedar chips made a nice flavor. The pellets were fine, but the cedar chips were better. Next time, I will definitely try apple wood!
  3. Place each salt variety you have in small, open foil packets. Fire up your charcoal grill with the wood chips to at least 350. Place the salt packets inside and leave them 1-2 hours, stirring now and then.
  4. When you’re done, let it cool and keep it in a sealed container close to where you cook and serve food. You will enjoy the unique flavor for many meals to come!

About the author

Jennifer Elwood resides in Yakima, Washington. She is a lover of Jesus, wife of Tom, mom of three, and bonus mom and grandma of many. She enjoys rich coffee, European chocolate, and the color orange. Going to Israel for the first time in 2015 sparked her desire to write and she has not stopped since. Counting Up to Christmas: Twenty-Four Gifts from the Gospel of Luke is her first book. Stay up to date with her, download freebies, and receive the recipe book that accompanies Counting Up To Christmas, at www.jenniferelwood.com.

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Doing our calling

Guest post from ShameRX at Denise Dubois Pass blog, click here to read the full blog

Doing Our Calling

Doing our calling is a chance to cultivate our partnership with God and experience his faithfulness in the process.

Shame Rx:

God cares more about our obedience in the process than results.

Scripture:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord,  your God will be with you wherever you go.” —Joshua 1:9

Doing Our Calling—Obedience

I woke up late and realized I was behind again. Oh, why does doing what you love to do have to be so hard? God cares more about our obedience than what we produce. Even so, it can be hard to continue in our calling.

But as we begin to embrace the beauty of the process of our calling, we start to learn how God celebrates our progress. When we choose to rest in His sufficiency, we realize His strength becomes manifest in the process. Click To Tweet

As well as speaking quiet assurance and encouragement to move us forward step by step.

Doing Our Calling—Overcoming Shame

Ultimately, there is no cause for shame in starting small. As we enter into a partnership with God, God’s word helps to fuel passion for the calling on our lives. Click To Tweet

Nonetheless, if we do not embrace this process, we will feel unfulfilled and not be as fruitful as God desires for our lives.

To continue reading click here https://denisepass.com/doing-our-calling/

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Fluid love

As I closely observed my colors of paint on my art canvas, I began to notice the resistance in the movement of the textures.

As I tried a few techniques to no avail, I began to feel despondent in my ability to create. The process did not start seamlessly; it was rather cumbersome, messy, and disappointing. As I exhaled, I released the need to create perfection.

Faith can quench fears, and as I relished a tide of faith, I began to cross a threshold of my self-perceived limits. I embraced the confidence to proceed, and as I yielded to the process, patience and the wonder began to enchant… Click To Tweet The process is not always desirable, to say the least, yet therein lies the ability to find the sacred in the silence and grace laced in wonder. Click To Tweet

As my eyes opened to the nuances of the tedious process, I began to behold a new view. This longer path requires one to press in can lead to a cascade of fluidity, breaking all confinements allowing creativity to burst forth.

Entirely independent colors began to flow in oneness to create a visual symphony of divine grace before my very eyes.

In this journey, where doubts may collide with the whispers of promise, let your tender surrender allow fluid love to paint the canvas of your life with a new beginning. Click To Tweet

When grace is laced in the process, only fluid love remains.

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Discovering our calling

Guest post at ShameRX with Denise Pass Dubois

Check out today’s guest blog, where Denise and I talk about developing our calling while being free from shame.

Here is an excerpt:

Discovering Our Calling

Discovering our calling is rooted in finding the unique identities that were predestined for us in Christ.

Shame Rx:

Discovering our calling is about learning to celebrate progress over perfection. 

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (ESV)

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.”

Developing Our Calling

 Investing and developing our gifts is not self-focused, it is demonstrating the generosity of God’s goodness. #ShameRx @TheDenisePass @ShelleySinghAuD Click To Tweet

God is delighted when we begin to discover our identity and gifts as a Father delights in a child. Discovery is not shameful; it is a method of celebration!

A path is full of sights to see and beauty to relish. Our way to discovering our callings may not be a straight path or even one that makes sense. Condemnation may tell us that it is selfish to seek out your calling, but it is not true. Seeking out and discovering your calling will only help you release a fragrance of Christ in a thirsty world. Finding and developing a calling is a path of sacrifice done out of love for others for to give our gifts to others bless our Father’s heart.

To read the rest of the post go here

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Enigma of grace

I heard a voice beckon me to explore the enigma of grace. In a world where bigger is better, standing alone isn’t the norm. Yet, where there is solitude, there is space to inhale grace and let its intimate aroma infuse your soul. Click To Tweet

Valiantly taking your stance is courageous, for creating a legacy takes sacrifice and substance. Through grace, the rugged terrain of my heart has become adorned with the wildflowers of surrender and miraculous manifestation.

Hope watered the barren places, creating an apothecary of healing waters. In the winding roads of my heart, the allure of a mysterious victory exists where tragedy becomes a triumph. For amidst the struggle, a curious abundance remains.

Grace isn’t a mirage but as near as my next breath, declaring its reassuring presence with the rise and fall of my chest. Even in the valley of trouble, a door can open where hope is the key to the enigma of grace. Click To Tweet

Copyright © 2020 Shelley Singh

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Light like a lily pad

As I look at this picture I took years ago, I reflect on the loveliness of intricate design.

The lifespan of these beauties depends upon water levels and the strength of each plants’ root system.

To thrive like lily pads, our root system matters too.

We need to be deeply rooted in healthy relationships and the grace of God to withstand the harsh winds of life.

Buoyancy is the tendency to float in water and as we dip our souls in mercy, grace ignites a renewed sense of lightness where hope becomes the anchor of our souls. Click To Tweet

Be rooted and grounded in love. -Ephesians 3:17

May your heart and soul feel the light of compassion today and may grace renew the countenance of your being. Click To Tweet
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The Way Home by Tessa Afshar

The Way Home Bible study: God’s invitation to New Beginnings by Tessa Afshar

Tessa Afshar’s new study, The Way Home is based on the book of Ruth. This six week study brings the book to life in a revelatory way, weaving the cultural backdrop and highlighting the spiritual progress of each character. You will come to adore and understand the familiar actors as you navigate their struggles and victories.

Naomi and Ruth experience a profound sense of hopelessness that comes from deep loss. However,  the state of Israel at the time of the book of judges, which immediately precedes the book of Ruth, was one of utter despair and political upheaval.

The book of Ruth is about new beginnings. Despite Ruth and Naomi’s ethnic differences between Gentile and Jew, the stark evidence of God’s love and hand is tenderly visible. The heart of God for reconciliation between Jew and Gentile is highly apparent.

The study starts with the backdrop of famine, emphasizing the lack and emptiness present in Ruth, recently widowed and Naomi’s lives.

Ruth chose to have the courage to move into an unfamiliar land and allowed courage to be the gateway for new beginnings for her and Naomi.#thewayhome #tessaafshar #newbeginnings Click To Tweet

Ruth’s decision to operate out of hope and love demonstrates the power of personal choice. Her loving actions bring the same blessing of a new beginning to Naomi, her mother-in-law, and to Boaz, whom she marries after moving to Jerusalem with Naomi.

Tragedy does not exempt us from making responsible decisions. And decisions can lead to a glorious destiny orchestrated by divine love if we like Ruth, place our trust in God's hands. Click To Tweet

In the words of Tessa, “It is possible to persevere even when pain robs us of breath.”

God meets us where we are, in our lack, in our loneliness and wrestling emotions.

God led Ruth to the exact spot where she would meet Boaz, whose name means “pillar of strength.”

Just as God offers Ruth a new beginning, He provides the same for us each day with fresh choices; choices that have the potential to lead us into the divine destiny uniquely designed for us.

There is extraordinary potential in the ordinary moments of life woven together by a loving God.

The boldness of Ruth, coupled with the loving nature of Boaz, result in a grace-filled covenant.

Tessa Afshar's new study skillfully reflects how shame is turned into grace and invites you to experience this grace by creating a new beginning in your life today. Click To Tweet

My favorite part of this study, as with all of Tessa’s writing, is the depth of her historical research.  There is so much wisdom to glean from putting the familiar Bible stories in their historical context, which is something that enriches all her texts.

I encourage you also to purchase the video series along with the study as I found them indispensable as I navigate and continue to study this inspiring study.

May you have your threshing floor today and find abundance where they has been lack in your life by following the Father’s voice into your land of new beginnings.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the way home bible study as a member of the launch team per Moody publishers. I did not receive any compensation for my review.

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I can’t breathe-A tribute to George Floyd

Breathe easy.

As I drove through a small town in Texas, I couldn’t help but notice the words on my left-hand side glancing back at me, inviting me to breathe freely in this quaint town.

Breathe easy.

The irony behind these words stood out strongly.

This week, the words flooding the news outlets and the most common social media hashtag has been, “I can’t breathe.”

  As George Floyd pleaded for his god-given life, his pleas fell on deaf ears of his murderer until hatred ultimately extinguished the flame of George’s life. #justiceforgeorgefloyd Click To Tweet

Turning away our faces from the divisive hatred still prevalent in hearts today, words of unity can only go far to bandage the pain of any forms of supremacy and racial division, which still forms the foundation of the not so “united” states.

If love is the way to tear away the veils of hatred than George Floyd’s murder this past week by a Caucasian cop in Minnesota may have torn the veil of complacency covering the eyes of the American public of the darkness that still prevails over this land.

As voices scream for the injustice that has sent shock waves through the Christian community, the topic of racial intolerance has surfaced once again.

Will the passionate pleas turn into conviction for the lack of love in our hearts or will these words remain as a forgotten hastag to be replaced by a new one next week?

As Christians should mourn the loss an innocent man, let us remember to pray fervently for George’s grieving family. George leaves behind a legacy of hard work, kindness and a respected community leader.

As America wrestles with sleeping giants of racial and political divides among a global pandemic, the state of Minnesota grieves the loss of George Floyd’s life amidst the havoc of a city in ruins post rioting.

Broken hearts lay amidst the ruins of broken dreams of many as the riots have trampled upon the hard work of innocent bystanders. For revenge is a fire that doesn’t burn just one individual, it consumes and spreads to others quickly destroying all in its ravaging path.

What can you do to break down the walls of division in your community? What can you do to become more aware of other cultures and close the racial gap? Are you willing to examine any stereotypes you may need to release?

After all, Jesus calls his children to be peacemakers. The only way to weaken hatred is to strengthen love. #georgefloyd Click To Tweet

George Floyd died from suffocation because, in the end, hatred is suffocating. Love, on the other hand, gives breathing room and breath births life.

Perhaps, if we allow the wells of our hearts to deepen in love, our love will become strong enough to shatter strongholds such as hate that still pervade humanity today.

Love is the only force that can withstand the divisive voices knocking at our doors daily.

To donate to George Floyd’s GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

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Don’t over think it by Anne Bogel

Anne Bogel presents a compilation of strategies to equip readers who struggle with overthinking.

Overthinking has implications for productivity, mental health, and relationships. This book provides concrete steps towards freedom from cycles of overthinking to the joy that comes from making simpler decisions.

If you struggle with perfectionism, decision fatigue, or information overload than this book will challenge you to develop new thinking patterns in these areas. #dontoverthinkit  #annebogel . Click To Tweet

This book will spur you towards personal growth and help you harness the gift of making decisions from a posture of peace.

Fear is not the channel that helps build healthy choices; peace and love are the healthy avenues needed to make impactful decisions yielding lasting change.

In a simple conversational style, Anne narrates examples from her own life and provides practical implications that have the power to transform your life.  Pick up a copy of this book today to infuse your life with subtle prompts to steer you forward into progress in your projects.

With wisdom to make simpler decisions, there lies newfound freedom on the other side. . Click To Tweet
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Spiritual blindness

Spiritual blindness

It was an unusually foggy morning.

As my eyes tried to adjust to the stubborn haze, I realized this journey felt familiar.

Years ago, as a new believer in Christ, my spiritual vision was dim.  As I made attempts to make sense of Christianity and aspects of the gospel, I often had the sense of stumbling my way forward without clarity.

This new world seemed to hold promise although I didn’t understand how to tap into the promises of God or how to process what my senses were awakening to.

My faith muscles were about to be stretched. Abraham knew what it felt like to follow God into unknown territories leaving behind a world of comfort and familiarity. My journey began to take on a similar route.

As I felt the fog began to lift, I felt more relaxed and it became easier to navigate my trip.

Spiritual vision becomes acute with intentionality and depth in the context of relationships.

As Job states, “ I had heard of you only by the hearing of the ear, but now my spiritual eye sees You.” -Job 42:5

Similarly, as I began to grow in my faith walk, details became magnified as I noticed budding beauty all around me with a fresh perspective.

Jesus engages the senses to make each moment resplendently glorious resurrecting the wonder in each of us again.

John 9 tells the parable of a blind man and his encounter with Jesus.

Jesus creatively used spit to bring vision, turning the mundane into the miraculous. 

It is interesting to note, that Jesus restored sight to a man who had never seen.

Apart from grace, we are left in a blind stupor.

Grace rescues us from blindness, opening our eyes to the daily splendor embedded within abundant life. Click To Tweet

Copyright © 2019 Shelley Singh

Photo credit: Sara Shafqat