Bible Journaling Update

Religion

Back in February of 2016, I wrote a post “Has Bible Journaling Gone Too Far?” To date, it has been my most popular post and has received the most comments (75!). As the comments keep occasionally rolling in, I realized I should write an updated post about this obviously interesting subject.

I want to make sure that I’m clear about one thing: If you read your Bible and you connect with God – that’s a GOOD thing. Whatever way you choose to do that is between you and God.

I’m thankful that I had so many comments on this original post because it means that this topic speaks to many people. It is a blessing that this post has engaged people the way it has and I’m so very blessed for that. If any of my posts can help people dig deeper in their walk with God – I feel like I’m doing what He’s asked me to do.

In addition, I’ve heard a lot of opinions about this topic and I can honestly agree with most of them. I still hold firm that the Word of God should NOT be covered up in any way. I’ve also since seen a lot of journaling that does glorify God and does connect the person to Him. That’s a good thing – no matter how you do it.

But I want to share a story with you that, I hope, illustrates my original point better.

I recently saw someone post about her Bible journaling. Most of what she was doing seemed benign to me and I did connect to her as a fellow Christian. But then she posted a new piece of artwork and I was concerned. She had been inspired by a Christian TV show to focus on a particular scripture. (That’s GREAT by the way! Anytime we can utilize mass media to teach the world about God is a great thing for the body of Christ.) However, when she completed her artwork with something that had nothing to do with the scripture, but, instead, the TV show, it bothered me. And, in addition, her artwork covered up a large portion of the scripture to boot. (To be fair, she said this was her “journaling Bible” so I assume she has another where she does not cover up scripture.) She proudly shared this artwork on social media saying, “I’m proud of how this turned out! I think I did a great job.”

Folks, that’s exactly what worries me about this trend. That is not focusing on the scripture. That is not focusing on Christ or His Word. That is focusing on worldly things (the TV show), on her achievements, on her skills and on her own pride without giving credit to the One who has given her those things. In my opinion, she wasn’t connecting to the scripture by doing this, she was creating artwork for her own enjoyment. And she defaced the Word of God to do it. For me, that is putting worldly things ahead of Him.

This is where, for me, it becomes a slippery slope. It can be so easy to focus on ourselves and on our talents. But those talents come from the Creator. He created us and gave us all the skills we have. Anything we create is as a result of how He made us. (Even this blog post, for example.) Bible journaling is supposed to connect us to Him. Proponents of this trend say it brings them closer to the Word. But, in this instance, I don’t think she was brought closer to the Word. The scripture she originally referenced was “Seek and ye shall find.” How ironic. She didn’t find Christ at all in this exercise, but only her own selfish pride.

I want to also say that I do highlight my Bible with a yellow highlighter occasionally. It doesn’t cover the words, only “highlights” them. I do occasionally underline something for emphasis. I do occasionally write things in the margins as well. But I don’t cover up any of the words. Ever. And when I read the Word of God, I treat those words with respect and reverence. I’ve been re-reading my Bible and have started a few new studies that help me reflect on the words of God in new ways.I want to know what God intended for each and every word He has given me. How could I do that if those words were covered up? How could I understand every single nuance that the Lord is trying to teach me if I can’t see the words?

So, yes, it’s okay to doodle, create artwork, underline, highlight and make notes in your Bible. I’m not the Bible journaling police! It’s all between you and God in the end, not you and me. But please, please be sure when you are creating these works of art in your Bible that you’re doing it for the right reasons. Not for your own gratification or your own pat on the back, but because God truly is speaking to you and leading you in the process.

I am SO thankful for those 75 comments on my original post. I’m thankful because it was a post about God that garnered a lot of attention. Any way I can cause my readers to consider His ways, is a good thing to me. And I’m thankful that it was enough for me to create this follow-up post. God has certainly opened up a doorway of conversation here and I’m anxious to keep it going. May it all be for His glory.

I thank each of you for reading and having opinions and commenting!

God bless.

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Show VS Tell – A New Light

Life and Happiness, Religion

As part of my new year’s goals, I’ve been working hard to incorporate exercise and God into my every day life. As a result, I’ve started using podcasts on my daily walks to keep me motivated. Not only am I exploring new and exciting ideas through the podcasts – many of them Christian-based – it’s also helping me keep up my walking routine.

The other day I began listening to a new podcast, “Exploring My Strange Bible.” This is Tim Mackie’s personal podcast (he created The Bible Project). The podcast focused that day on Hebrews and was labeled, “An Invitation to Rest”. To be honest, I think it’s been mislabeled. I don’t remember much about resting within this podcast.

However, Tim did speak about how our actions often do not align with our words. All too often, what we SAY we believe and what we actually believe are separate things. They may be CLOSE, but not exactly the same. (Check out his podcast for the full story and a great illustration.)

During the sermon, Tim said, “My actions betray my faith.” I was so floored by this statement. I realized that my actions often betray my faith, but not in good ways. You see, your actions could betray your faith in a good way, like you often feed the homeless or you drive a person somewhere because they don’t have a car or you donate half your salary to a deserving organization. But, my actions, especially in the last few months of last year, were not betraying my faith in a positive light. I was getting angry about a lot of things. I lashed out at my husband and some friends. I sheltered myself away from people simply because they were ticking me off with every single thing they did or said.

Sad. I know.

Instead of being the Christian I believe we should be – one that is forgiving, merciful and loving – I was being the opposite. I kind of see it as a little temper tantrum now. And I can blame all sorts of things for it, but it’s really no use now. Now, I’m simply trying to learn from it.

As Tim talked on through his sermon, I realized this concept was a lot like the writing concept of “Show VS Tell.” If you’re a writer, you know what I mean. It’s important, as a writer, to show your audience what you mean through descriptive words rather than simply telling them what you mean. Here’s an example:

TELLING: Tom was tired.

SHOWING: Tom felt his head drop to his chest and his eyelids start to flutter closed. The weight of his late nights seemed to be finally catching up to him.

You see? In the showing example, I’m trying to paint a picture of what Tom’s exhaustion looks like, not simply telling my reader he’s tired.

By thinking about this concept, I thought, “That’s exactly what many of us do. We only TELL people what we believe instead of SHOWING them what we believe.”

This revelation opened a door of thought to me. What if I began showing my faith on a daily basis instead of simply talking about my faith? What would it look like?

Well, using our same way of examples:

TELLING: “I told her I think the church should be willing to open its doors to everyone. We need to share God’s love with the least fortunate.”

SHOWING: I take canned goods to the less fortunate. Or perhaps I make them an actual meal. Or maybe I sit and listen to an elderly person who has no one else to talk to. Or I send a card to someone who is feeling low and needs encouragement. I DO THE WORK. Without looking for attention, without seeking a pat on the shoulder…I simply DO THE WORK God has told me to do. And it SHOWS the people in my life and around me that I believe we should help one another. And I give grace, mercy and forgiveness when it’s necessary.

Doesn’t seem like a real life-altering thing, does it? Except it really hit me hard since I had struggled for several months now with feelings of bitterness and anger. Feelings I didn’t know what to do with and wasn’t sure how to fix.

But God is showing me how to fix it. He put this podcast right into my lap (or, rather, ear) and I’m so glad he did. In fact, I’m heading out now for another walk and another episode of this podcast to see what God’s word might be for me today. I am so blessed that God is growing me in these news ways this year and I can’t wait to see what else is in store.

I hope you have a great week and remember to SHOW your faith, not simply TELL it.

God bless.

What Are The Rules?

Uncategorized

As an editor, I follow rules on a daily basis – namely the Chicago Manual of Style rules. Although many authors like to think they aren’t following “rules” – everyone likes to think they’re writing something completely unique and “out of the box” – most authors are following rules each time they write. Whether it be rules from a style manual or simply writing rules that include story structure with rising and falling action, writers do follow some kind of rules when they put pen to paper.

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecc. 1:9 NIV)

But all too often in our world today, we see people not wanting to follow rules of any kind. They “buck” the system by saying, “This is my truth and I will live my way.” Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants to be unique. Everyone wants to do it their way. Everyone wants to just be left alone. But there still needs to be rules of some sort.

This past Sunday, our pastor started a series on the Ten Commandments and he made a comment that people don’t like to be commanded. I tend to agree. (I didn’t enter the armed forces for this very reason even though I’m, pretty much, a rule follower.) He also mentioned that people tend to see the Ten Commandments as a set of unfair rules doled out by God when, in actuality, they are provided for our own safety and protection.

These commandments are much like the ordinary rules in our own life.

*giant pause here*

I must confess, I tried to give you a list of these “ordinary rules” that I believed everyone follows here, but I couldn’t come up with more than two. Rules today seem to be considered on an individual basis. Although I think most would agree that murder is still wrong, there are murderers in our world. Plus, we bend that rule when in the midst of war. Although I would believe most people to believe raping a child is wrong, define “child.” Is it under 18? Under 16? Less than 100 years ago, our ancestors married off daughters at the age of 14 (and sometimes younger). Many had children before the age of 16. So when did that rule change? And why? I could only come up with one “firm” rule: we all stop on red and go on green. I don’t think there would be anyone who would argue that one. (Although, I could be wrong!)

As I continue to contemplate these issues – and the fact that so many people have so many different opinions – it makes me both sad and introspective. This lack of what rules are “standard” is probably why so many people are offended so easily today. I’m often saddened when people argue in such an ugly manner on social media. It’s a breaking down of our society as a whole when we can’t simply agree to disagree. (And it also is a real double standard if you want your rules but won’t let me have mine. But I digress….)

I follow the Bible’s rules for most things (and this was our pastor’s point this past Sunday), but there are a LOT of things that simply can’t be so black and white (like murder and other issues I’ve mentioned). The rules of the world are not always as simple as my Chicago Manual of Style rules. There are things in this world certainly more in-depth and complicated than whether or not to use two spaces after a period. (DO NOT use two spaces in fiction.)

I think it’s worth considering and discussion because our world seems to have gotten so far away from any standard consensus on rules and it is making us fight each other on a daily basis. It makes living life that much harder, when it’s already really hard. And it certainly isn’t what God intended for us. I know I’m certainly going to begin praying about it and paying more attention to it as the year goes on and I hope you’ll do the same. Even if we all can’t agree on hard and fast rules, I pray we can start to find middle ground and agree on much more moving forward.

I’d love to know your thoughts. God bless.

Book Review

Book Reviews, Life and Happiness

This is a new idea I’m going to try here on my blog: book reviews. I hope to pass along some good reading to my readers. Last year, I set a goal to read 50 books and I did it! I charted my progress on Goodreads – it’s easy to do and I can help you if you’d like to set up a goal for yourself this year. I’m going to shoot for 50 again this year, but maybe will push myself harder (I barely achieved the 50 last year!).

Book for review:
Realer Than Real: A True Story of Grace, Hope, and Healing by Ryan Wilkins

Synopsis:
The description on Amazon does little to give the reader a good intro into this book. In a nutshell, this is one man’s story of living through loss and tragedy in his life. Throughout, his faith and relationship with God goes through several incarnations and changes.

Reader View:
The book is an “easy read”, which basically (for me) means there are no hard words or real dynamic writing. A young reader (from 9 on up) could read it easily (although I’m not sure a child should read it due to the loss and tragic aspects.) It’s written in a diary kind of style, but also gives anecdotes and stories from other people in the author’s lives. It all fits together, though, to create a pretty deep and emotional book. Having lost a loved one earlier in 2017, I found one part near the end very difficult to read. I had to set the book aside and weep for awhile. I am only bringing that up in order to caution anyone who has recently dealt with a loss – it could be hard, in places, to read.

Conversely, I think the author is a bit too Pollyanna. There is no real struggle with his relationship with God. He seems to preach pretty heavily in some sections about how we can simply rely on God and everything will work out. Yes, God is here for us always, but it is still okay to struggle and feel alone. Although, the author does bring some of this up, I felt like he didn’t want his readers to see him struggle. He quickly moves into how God saves him from himself. If you’re not someone who wants scripture quoted to you, this is probably not the book for you.

Editor’s View:
From an editor’s standpoint, I found very few punctuation and grammar issues. However, it was also a bit boring in some spots due to the diary-like style. Sentences are pretty simple and didn’t always entice me to keep reading. Again, the emotional aspect does keep the reader moving though so there is something to be said about that style.

In the end, I would recommend this as a quick read, but it is not light reading.

And, remember, if you don’t like a book, quit reading it! There is no rule that says you must finish a book. However, I encourage you to expand your reading horizons and read some things this year that you don’t think you would normally read.

If you’ve read this book, I’d love to hear what you thought of it. Remember, in order for an author to do well on Amazon, they need your reviews there as well. I’m off to leave this one a medium review right now.

God bless and happy reading!

God’s Care When We Least Expect It

God, Life and Happiness

About a week ago, I was traveling down a rural road. I kept the speedometer at a cautious speed due to the winding nature of the road. The car ahead of me – several car lengths ahead – began to slow and the brake lights lit up. The driver seemed to be stopped so I slowed my own car to access the situation. Just as I was about to keep moving forward, a deer popped out from behind a building. I pressed my brake harder to prohibit any movement. (Living in north central PA, I’ve been taught to be cautious this time of year for deer.)

I watched as the deer scrambled across the road and was then followed by another deer…and then another…and another. Soon, about ten deer were running across the road a few feet in front of my car. I watched in wonder as they followed one another into a thicket on the other side of the road to my left. When it seemed that the last deer had crossed, I took my foot off the brake. Breathless, I inched forward, continuing to be cautious of stragglers.

Afterwards, I thanked God for the moment. Not only had He provided me with the caution I needed on this back road, but He’d also provided another driver to alert me. Had I been driving faster or had left just several seconds sooner, I would have been hit by not one, but up to ten deer! He’d also provided a really rare moment of joy as I was able to stare, up-close at several of His majestic creatures.

It also broke me of a spell I had been under that morning. It was early (and I don’t arise early much anymore since I work from home) and I had been worried about the trip. But after this moment, my tension seemed to ease a bit as I realized God was looking out for me – as He always is and always promises to be.

Sometimes (or all the time?) we get caught up in the worries of our everyday life and we forget those promises. I pray today that you might have a moment like the one I had to remind you that God is always by your side, always on your side and always looking out for you.

“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 NIV

God bless.

 

Here we go again!

Life and Happiness, Religion

Here it is the end of another year. As I reflect back on all that I’ve accomplished (have I accomplished anything?), I wanted to touch base with my readers.

This year has been a rough one. I’ve lost loved ones both human and dog. I’ve struggled to build my business. I’ve fought my own internal lack of self-worth as well as the negative thoughts I so often battle with.

There have been good things too. I traveled and celebrated the wedding of two dear friends and caught up with family who are simply too far away, but make me feel blessed even though they aren’t really my family.

The world witnessed disastrous acts of nature this year and my heart bled for so many who are hurting and without homes or support.

As we begin a new year I’ve decided that I want to start this blog again on a more regular basis. Long story short, I miss it. I miss the interaction with my readers. I miss being able to pour out my sorrows and celebrations instead of holding them all in. But it won’t be a constant, twice a week thing. It might be more, it might be less. I’ll write when I feel led and when I feel like I have something to say.

I hope you will read and comment. I desire your interaction. I want different and shared opinions. It’s how we can connect as a community. It’s how, I believe, God is working in our lives to heal (at least) my little world bubble. I hope I can encourage, inspire and even provoke my readers in the year ahead.

So. Where do we want to start?

I already have an idea for a book review post so be on the lookout for that in the new year. For now, enjoy your families. Eat to your heart’s content all those family tradition foods. Sit for a moment by the glow of a Christmas tree lights and just savor the moment of this season. And above all else, remember your Lord and King for whom we celebrate and be thankful.

God bless and Merry Christmas.

A View of Harvey’s Leftovers from an Outsider

Life and Happiness, life lessons, Uncategorized

Last week, my husband and I visited Texas for a friend’s wedding. After enjoying ourselves immensely in the festivities, we traveled to Houston to visit with family. I wanted very much to volunteer in some way in the Harvey cleanup while there and my husband’s cousin hooked us up with a local church/disaster relief organization. (They, luckily, had no damage in their neighborhood.)

When we first met Teri at Crossbridge Disaster Relief Center, her bright smile welcomed us. I could tell she was full of passion for this cause. As she spoke to us about her many encounters during and after the hurricane, I felt my own passion rising to help. She gave us directions to a neighborhood that was hard hit and asked us to deliver a broom to a man who had lost everything. He’d even been fired from his job because he’d been on the phone with FEMA while at work. She’d given him other things, and will continue to offer other help, but, RIGHT NOW, he really needed a broom to simply sweep out the debris.

It seemed too simple, but we agreed.

Keep in mind that Houston is HUGE and the city itself is in the middle, but everything surrounding it is often referred to as “Houston” as well. However, the multitude of little communities surrounding it all have names and a distinction of their own. These neighborhoods are best described as small “cul-de-sac” type areas, with streets that wind around and intersect – you can easily get lost in this small development. And, yet, soon, you wind your way back out and are astonished that you made it. The houses are set very close together and despite it being set back just a bit from the main road, you sense that you’re in a completely different section of town.

The one we were to visit is called Bear Creek. When we arrived in his neighborhood early the next morning, we saw no one. When we pulled onto the particular street that we’ve been given for Bob’s home, we felt as if we were transported to a ghost town. Houses were boarded up and no one was around. Eerie. As we made our way down the street, we noticed you could see completely through some homes. They’d been gutted.

We parked and made our way to Bob’s house. He wasn’t home and his door was locked. It seemed odd because, well, there was nothing in his home. Nothing to keep anyone away from or to keep from stealing. His door didn’t even really close properly, but it was locked. My husband tried to push it open, but I stopped him.

“But it’s really not locked,” he said. “I don’t want to leave the broom outside.”

“The man still has the shell,” I said. “It’s not ours to go into.”

Despite the home being completely vacant, the walls still stood. This was still a man’s home. It was still beautiful despite the destruction and it was still his to maintain. It was not ours to intrude upon. He’d had enough heartbreak and intrusion on his life. We left the broom and returned to our car.

As we traversed the neighborhood we realized something else: one street would have destroyed homes, with no one around and other streets would not have a single notable item of damage. People were going about their lives as if nothing happened only one block away from Bob’s home. How can they do that? I wondered. What guilt they must feel! And Teri says they do – many suffer from guilt and PTSD. It’s not all about the destruction the water left on their homes, but also the heartache it left in their hearts.

I could tell you much more about Bob and about Harvey’s destruction. I will, I hope, soon. I’m working with Teri to tell their story (again, I hope).

As we drove away, I cried. I could not do enough. We went to Home Depot and bought some supplies we knew Teri needed and left them at her church. It was not enough, but it was something. Now, back in PA, all I can do is write this down. All I can do is help to educate others about what it is really like. A lot of these folks are STILL without – without homes, jobs, lives. It will take MONTHS, maybe YEARS to recoup. Some, like Bob, may suffer endless years of depression due to this disaster. It doesn’t end when the waters recede.

I leave here now a few pictures. They do not describe to you the feeling of desolation, heartbreak and utter hopelessness that I felt when I saw them. I took only a few. It’s not for us to gawk and “looky loo”, but I wanted to show my readers that there is still MUCH work to be done.

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If you’d like to help, let me know. I can give you phone numbers to call. It’s far from over and I’ll be helping as long as I can. I hope you will consider helping too in whatever way you can.

 

Well, this is new…

Life and Happiness

I wrote in my last post that I was searching for new ways to increase my brand. I had written that post ahead of time (like I do with most posts). On Friday, September 1st I went about my day until about halfway into the morning I realized, “I didn’t see any post notifications for the blog.” Turns out, I had forgotten to write a post for that day!

Keep in mind I’ve been writing and posting at least twice a week (started off as three times) for over five years. I’ve rarely missed a posting day. But I did. And do you know what I realized?

It was okay. No one really cared. It didn’t affect my business or my brand and, frankly, I felt a little relieved.

As I contemplated this issue a bit further, I realized that while I still like to write blogs, the process has dulled a bit for me. I find myself struggling to find things to write about and wondering if any of it is making an impact at all.

So, I thought, what if I stopped writing my blog posts?

Yes, I know, it may be disheartening for some, but most of you simply won’t care. It’s not harsh and I’m not hurt at all. It might simply be a time for me to explore other things.

So. Here is what I’ve decided. I still might post some things on this blog, but mostly, if I have something to say, I’ll send it out to my newsletter followers. (Haven’t signed up for my newsletter? Click here.) The people who have chosen to follow me via my newsletter, I surmise, are the folks who truly want to keep up with what I’m doing. Usually, I just send things about new books, but those are kind of few at this point (although I’m working on another one…two actually). What I intend to do with the newsletter from here on out is use it for book release news, book updates, editing news and tips, as well as, sometimes, a quick devotion.

In short, like this blog, but less.

If you’d like to truly keep up with what I’m doing, or to support me and my business you can do the following: (Pick as many as fits your life.)

  1. Sign up for my newsletter. My newsletter will come less frequently than this blog has been – only when I send it out. (FYI, you’ll receive a few when you first sign up over the course of a few weeks as an introduction to me.) Click here to sign up.
  2. Follow me on social media. I have a Facebook page here. Instagram here. Twitter account here (I’m really lax on Twitter….). And you can follow me on Amazon here (I NEVER post anything there, but you’ll be advised when I publish new books.)
  3. Buy my books (click here). I have two fiction books and one journal currently available. I hope to have another (a short non-fiction) out by the end of this year.
  4. Send me money via PayPal. Ha. Kidding. But if you’re so inclined….

I hope to see many of you sign up for these in the next few days. I covet your prayers as well as I branch out and try this new avenue.

God bless.

 

But Starting Is Hard

Life and Happiness

Starting something new is way too hard.

Well, okay…it is, but…it isn’t.

When I first decided to quit my office job and work from home, it was the hardest decision of my life. I stressed about it relentlessly (just ask my husband). I knew what lie ahead would be a long, arduous journey and I might fail. Now, almost three years later (where did that time go?), I can look back and see my progress, but back then taking that step of faith was a hard one. I was literally on the fence.

Recently, I’ve been reading this book “Roanoke (Keepers of the Ring 1)” and I realized as I read about the lives of these settlers that a lot of things in my own life are not really worth fretting about so much.

Think about this: The time period is 1587. Let that fact sink in first. There are no telephones, no communication systems other than letters, no steam engines, no electricity, and no construction equipment other than crud shovels and the like. Now imagine setting sail across a vast body of water that had only been traversed a small amount of times (compared to today’s standards) in a wooden vessel.

There was no entertainment on board. There were no live bands, no tequila shots, no pool on the deck or even chairs on the deck. The people had to live in quarters below deck for most of the trip – the venture sometimes taking over several months. No showers. No change of clothes.

IF they made it to land, (depending on how skilled their captain was and if whether or not he much preferred to be a pirate than a true captain) there was no way of knowing what they would find. Would earlier settlers still be there? Or would they have all been killed by the “savages”? If they had sailed off course and ended up somewhere unknown, there wouldn’t be shelters set up. The wilderness could be dense and thick with unfamiliar vegetation. How would they know what was safe to eat? What if they had spent too many months on the ship and supplies had dwindled? How would they make it without food? I’m not sure I would have been able to take this voyage. I’m not sure I’m of strong enough stock.

As I traverse this still new work-from-home landscape, I’m searching out different ways that I can increase my brand while seeking out God’s purpose for my life. And sometimes I feel pretty alone in these endeavors and it feels like I’m starting from scratch. However, unlike the first settlers to the New World (Let’s not get into the Native American argument. I know they were here first. But stay with me.), there have been a plethora of writers, editors and work-from-home entrepreneurs who have cut back the thorns and weeds of the landscape in order that I might see a clear path before me. I’m grateful for these forerunners that help me to make my way in this wilderness.

Setting out on a new path for us today can often seem as scary as settling uncharted territory, but if we work together, we can each make progress on our goals.

It is for this reason that I want to help authors pursue their dreams of publishing a book. It is this that pushes me forward in what I do – so that others do not have to start from the bottom up, but can learn from my knowledge, and from the knowledge that was given to me by others.

If you’d like more information about how I can help you move forward in your endeavors, I’d love to chat with you. I offer editing and formatting services as well as writing, marketing and publishing consulting/coaching. Contact me today to learn more.

Let Your Light Shine

Life and Happiness, Religion

Recently, I submitted this devotion to two magazines and it was rejected by both. But I feel that God has a message for each of us within this devotion, especially on this day, so I am sharing with you. I hope it will remind those struggling to find joy to greet each day with a joyful heart no matter what the circumstances. Feel free to share it with your friends. God bless.

************************************************************************************

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)

Every morning around four, birds start singing outside my bedroom window. They are ever punctual; I don’t need to look at the clock to know the time. It seems like as soon as they start to see a bit of light touch the sky they are singing their praises for a new day.

I don’t like to be awakened by these birds at four in the morning and I often use earplugs to block them out. Even though their song is sweet, it is interrupting my sleep and irritating to me. But one of my friends told me she loves to hear the birds in the morning. Their song is a bright, beautiful way to start her day. She said it is a blessing to hear their songs.

I realized then that I often plug my ears to what God is trying to say each day too. Even when He is giving me wonderful blessings, I sometimes focus only on the negatives in my life – like birds waking me at 4 a.m.

Instead of praising Him for the blessings of my life, I try to hide away in my warm, comfortable places and avoid the light He is attempting to provide. Instead of singing God’s praises every morning like these birds do, I often hide my own light from the world too.

These birds give us a good example of how we should react when we acknowledge God’s light in our lives. We should sing praises and be glad a new morning is dawning. By doing this we can call on God to shed His light upon us for another day.

Today, I will try to be more like those birds outside my window. I will sing my praises for the light God gives me. I will greet the day with glorious song so all may hear and see the light that shines from within me.

Dear heavenly Father, help me not to shy away from the light, but to be glad for its presence in my life. Thank you for birds that sing and the sun that shines. May I be ever grateful for your many blessings. Amen.

*******

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16 (NASB)