Full or Empty Cup?


close up of coffee cup on table
Photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels.com

An empty cup can be filled, but a full cup can’t hold what God wants to pour into us.

What are we full of?

Fear, hurt, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, anxiety, dread, depression, anger?

OR

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faith, hope?

Do we fill our cup each day with “what if’s” that breed fear?

OR

Are we filled with excitement, dreams, possibilities and “God will”?

Jesus said that for all of us who are heavily burdened to come to him and trade whatever is weighing us down for his life of love, joy, peace, and hope. Laying everything down at his feet, we can let him handle our concerns and let him lead us by still waters.

Sometimes we find it hard to empty ourselves.

Pride, fear, shame, and disappointment can cause us to not trust God. We feel the need to control. But every step of faith that gives God more control yields relief and a lesser weight on us. Then we are free to let God determine our journey.

And his ways are far better than what we think we need or want.

He blows my mind with the healing, blessings, fulfilling ways my life expands and gets to touch others. His word says he gives us the desires of our hearts. I testify to the truth of that!

So today, are you empty or full? What is your cup full of?

Keep Stepping


20160223_082728I wonder how farmers feel when they first plant seeds and then wait for the results?

A harvest takes an entire season of plowing, planting, watering, cultivating, weeding, tending and, well…waiting. An entire season. Not a few days or weeks. Even though some plants sprout quickly, (thank you beans in kindergarten classrooms!), they still require nurturing before we get to enjoy the fruit (or veggie) of our labor.

From what I understand, growing seasons for vineyards and orchards take years before the first fruit appears. And then pruning is the only way to increase the growth. When we had an apple tree in our backyard, I had to cut off the branches each year so the tree would produce the following season.

This is a lesson for me today.

In building our lives, letting God transform us or building a dream, a business, a family or anything of significance, time is required. Often, it’s easy to grow impatient when we don’t see results within the time frame we expect or hope for.

Today I’m telling myself,

“Don’t be discouraged when your steps don’t lead to “leap” results immediately.

Keep stepping.

Cumulative effort is solid and most effective.

God is in the steps.

Leap out in faith, but walk in diligent trust and obedience.”

Maybe that helps you today too?

My Story’s Not Finished Yet


Having just completed my next book, Dangerous Ground, I’m extremely aware of what goes into writing a novel.

Usually the beginning is the easiest.

An idea grabs me, and my creative instincts take over, spinning a new tale with ever-evolving characters. It’s fun to get to know the players and see what they will do as the story unfolds. I also typically have a general idea of what the goal is, and therefore, what the ending will be.

But then, there’s the middle.

Ask any author, and they will tell you the dreaded middle is where we aren’t sure how it will all fit together, and whether the ending will actually play out, This is when we question our ability and desire to be a writer in the first place.

Recently, one of our pastors shared a message about having faith for the middle.

God often gives us a vision of what is to come in the future. He tells us where to start, and as we say yes to him, we’re launched into something we know will be great.

But then, the middle comes.

We don’t see the point, we’ve lost sight of the goal and we’re tired. And maybe confused. Things don’t look like we expected. As a matter of fact, they may even seem to be moving backwards.

Our pastor made some really great points about how to keep our hearts and minds in the right place when we’re in that middle space.

  • Don’t allow our feelings to determine our faith.
  • Don’t put our faith in things or circumstances.
  • Trust that God has a greater purpose while we’re in the middle.

I could relate to the idea of God working in the middle. That’s the messiest part. That’s the place where I fall in love with Jesus because I have to press close to him to get through. (You can watch his entire message here.)

Like in writing a book, the middle is where all the action is. It’s where the characters fall in love or start to see a solution to the crime. And that’s where we perfect the story.

In the middle, the story’s not finished yet.

Maybe you are in the middle of a story in your life. I know I am. It may feel like it will never end or certainly never end satisfactorily. But with God, there is always a good ending. Don’t give up while he’s writing the middle of your story.

I made it through the middle of Dangerous Ground, and while it didn’t exactly turn out the way I expected, I think it ended up being better.

Here’s a sneak peak of the cover. Thank you, CulpritMedia Group!

Look for it on Amazon in time for your Labor Day weekend reading!

Why Getting Help is So Important


DSC_0024I wish everyone would stop hiding and seek help for their issues.

There. I’ve said it.

I’m not as hardhearted as that may sound. It’s voiced from a place of compassionate frustration because I know the freedom available. I’m living it. The women in the small groups I lead experience it. My heart breaks in pain to watch people continue to struggle because of denial, minimizing and fear.

I get it.

It’s painful and scary and hard work. I’ve been there. It feels like you’re going to fall apart and lose yourself. There’s a gap between the broken place you are at and the healed place you’re going to so it takes a leap of faith to let go of one to grab the other, and that leap feels as if you will plummet to your emotional death.

BUT if we can take one little step at a time, like Indiana Jones walking over the precipice with invisible steps (you know the scene I’m talking about?), God will put a step right out in front of us to keep going. A lamp to our feet and light to our path deal.

A blogger friend, Sarah, who I met a few years ago has struggled big time with some debilitating issues in her life. But I’m so happy to offer a post of hers (with permission of course) here today from her new blog. One that is dedicated to helping others learn to care for themselves.

Because she has taken leaps of faith to persevere and allow God to heal, grow and deliver her, she is now able to share what she’s learned. I’m so proud of her.

She addresses this situation very well in the following post:

REAL TALK

Alright, I’m just going to dive right in with the blunt honesty part.  Here we go.

You can’t help yourself unless you accept that you need help.

It’s that simple.

If you aren’t able to acknowledge that something needs addressing then you can forget about making any progress in that area.  Ignoring a problem won’t make it go away, and usually, it only perpetuates the situation.  There’s nothing weak about admitting you need help.  And there’s nothing out there saying that if you do need help with something that you need to broadcast it to the whole world. But that being said, it’s so integral to talk someone about what you’re going through, be it a counselor, friend or family member.

People need people.

There is absolutely no reason to be going through anything alone. I have discovered that the more I talk about my story, and my struggles with depression and anxiety and a host of other things, that I connect with people more. Chances are, whoever you’re sharing with can relate to you in one way or another. I live for the “me too!’s”. The more you share and choose to be vulnerable with others, the more courage it gives others to share and be vulnerable too. And suddenly the work you’re doing on yourself transcends you and sets off a wave of healing that engulfs those around you. How’s that for motivation? Sharing your story openly could be what it takes to give someone else that final push to seek help for whatever is going on in their life that they never felt they could talk about before.

I can’t stress it enough how much my friends and community have helped me with my mental health and processing trauma. If I didn’t have them I don’t know if I’d be here right now, to be honest. I’ll probably write an entire post on my community later, they are phenomenal.

There is no shame in acknowledging something is off or not working for you in your life and saying it out loud.  Start with admitting it to yourself.  When you’re ready, talk to a close person you trust like a friend or counselor, and if you think you need a psychiatrist then ask your family doctor to refer you to one.  It can’t hurt, and in Canada it’s free.

If you are waiting for permission to put your mental health first and foremost above everything else, then wait no longer, here it is:

PERMISSION!

It’s your responsibility to take care of your mental health.
There’s nothing selfish about it and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
And you’re worth it.  You deserve to be healthy.

Remember that.

You are not alone!

Catch more of Sarah’s blog here : Sarah’s Guide to Self Care

And if you haven’t seen or don’t remember Indy. Here you go:

Does Your Life Add Up?


patented by Brendan Bennet
Brendan’s Math Tool he created and patented

My husband, Brendan, loves math. The complicated, algorithm kind with variables that stumps me like a foreign language of the Greek variety.

But the math in today’s post is something I can get a handle on!

In 2 Peter 1:5-8, we learn that our life can move forward by adding (or allowing God to add) the following qualities to our life one by one. Each one leads to the next and ends up with LOVE – the ultimate goal for all of us!

The best part is that these qualities are actually some of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. In other words, when we accept Jesus in our lives, his spirit lives in us and gives us these qualities as we allow him to grow our lives for the better.

Phew! That’s like someone doing your math homework for you.

We start with FAITH.

Simply believing that God is who he says he is and will do what he says.

To FAITH we add GOODNESS.

Definition: moral excellence, virtue, kindness, generosity. God is good. He makes me good. I can bring good to others. That’s good!

To GOODNESS we add KNOWLEDGE.

It’s interesting that goodness comes before knowledge. Sometimes I think we think that our knowledge is what matters most, but here God puts goodness first. It’s more important to be good than smart. The Bible says “knowledge puffs up” – meaning it make us think better of ourselves than we should.

But we aren’t to ignore knowledge, we’re to add it!

Especially when it comes to knowing God. And the more we know about the world, his creation, his words (the Bible), the more we know him.

To KNOWLEDGE we add SELF-CONTROL.

What good is virtue (goodness) and knowledge if we can’t use self-control in exhibiting them? In part, that means that I am disciplined in my thoughts and actions and willing to do things for others when it isn’t convenient or easy.

To SELF-CONTROL add PERSEVERANCE.

Okay, so now things are getting a little tougher. Can I continue to move ahead in these things even when it’s hard? When I struggle to have faith, want to have my own way or don’t want to be “good”? That takes perseverance.

To PERSEVERANCE we’re going to add GODLINESS.

Well, I’m certainly not going to be able to be like God if I’m not willing or able to have the other qualities first. But I love that God has us building up to this. He doesn’t expect us to be like him in character before we have faith or goodness or understanding or self-control.

After GODLINESS, we add BROTHERLY KINDNESS.

As God adds to our life, we are able to get outside ourselves and look to others. He loves us, we grow in that love, learning to love him and ourselves which makes us able to share that love with other people.

Finally, we add LOVE.

This is God’s love, agape love – the unconditional kind that doesn’t ever expect anything in return, that’s willing to set aside my desires or rights for the good of someone else. Now what would our current world look like if we were all able to love like that?

As we allow each of these qualities to be added to our lives, we become better people, we bless others and we become more productive and effective.

This is math that adds up! Even I can figure it out. 😉

How about you? Do you see some qualities you’d like to add to your life?

What is Faith?


Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

DSC_0016Isn’t it great to know that God looks more at our willingness to have faith and be faithful than he does at whether we keep his laws?

Of course, as we grow in faith, we will also desire to live rightly with God and others. But in Hebrews 11, God gives us a list of folks who made mistakes and bad choices but God praised them for their faith in him.

Even though they blew it in other ways.

Abraham lied about Sarah being his wife.

Moses killed a man and disobeyed God.

David took another man’s wife and murdered her husband.

Noah got drunk and exposed himself.

Job lost everything and questioned God.

Rahab was a prostitute.

And those are only the big names we know about.

But God commended them for their faith even in spite of their sinful, human tendencies. And look at all the things they and their predecessors accomplished by faith:

  • Pleased God (vs.5)
  • Obeyed and went unknown places (vs.8)
  • Worshiped in weakness (vs.21)
  • Weren’t afraid of a king’s edict or anger (vs.23 & 27)
  • Persevered (vs.27)
  • Did something that seemed foolish, but saved their lives (vs.28)
  • Conquered kingdoms, administered justice, gained promises, saw lions’ mouths shut (vs. 34)
  • Escaped flames and sword, saw their weakness turn to strength (vs.35)
  • Became powerful in battle, routed foreign armies (vs.35)
  • Saw the dead raised, withstood torture, flogging, insults and prison (vs.37)
  • Were able to trust God even when stoned, cut in two, persecuted , mistreated and killed (vs.39)

Wow. Living a life of faith means living in greatness.

In spite of our sin, our opposition or circumstances. And in the end, we spend eternity with a loving God and fellow believers.

The best part is we don’t have to conjure up faith on our own. It is a gift freely given by God when we ask. Good news: even our asking exhibits faith.

Are you ready to move ahead in faith today?

Ready for an Enjoyable Read?


Newest Release

Author, Sherry Kyle, has written a delightful novel that weaves a thread of forgiveness and redemption throughout the lives of four very real and loveable characters.

“When the alcoholic father of Jessica MacAllister’s son reappers in their lives, Jessica and her son go to her Uncle George for advice and refuge.

Following a year of grief, Evelyn Sweeney is finally ready to move on. Pondering her new path in life, her mind drifts to her first love, George MacAllister.

When the lives of these two women cross, they discover that one heart-shaped ring binds their stories together. But will the results be a rekindled faith and new hope, or will it lead them both back into the darkness they’ve fought for so long?”

The Heart Stone was hard to put down.

The romantic possibility and tension as well as intriguing suspense kept me engaged and guessing. Jacob, the 6 year old son, had me smiling and even brought an outright laugh. By the end, I felt as if these characters were my friends who had overcome obstacles and grown emotionally and spiritually. I wished the book didn’t have to end.

Sherry Kyle’s gift as a connector of people shines in her novels which rekindle and reconcile relationships. I believe Sherry’s ability as a writer grows with each new release. I can’t wait for the next one.

Well done, Sherry.

The Heart Stone, Published by Abingdon Press released on April 1, 2013 and is available from these retailers:

Cokesbury

Christian Book Distributors

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

What are books you’ve enjoyed reading lately?

From Death Comes Life


I have a past.

Everything I’ve written so far on my blog relates to my present and my future; the amazing things God has done in rebuilding a life. He has restored what he originally intended for me, and I dwell in joy and gratefulness.

But once, my life held fear, despair and brokenness.

Nightmares from being molested by neighbor children as a five year old and raped as a young woman plagued me. Panic clutched at me in the night. An unseen force kept me silent and terrified. Betrayal in my first marriage, and the devastation of a second marriage to a man driven by fantasy crushed my hopes and dreams. Exhaustion and suicide were my constant companions. I felt lost and alone until a woman whose past had been redeemed by the Lord, grabbed my hand and held me steady.

When I filed for a divorce the second time, it was my only option—a last ditch effort to save all our lives, but I felt ashamed. Friends told me I needed more hope and faith that God could do miracles. My maturity in Christ was questioned when I decided not to “rise above” the choices of my husband and stay with him. My choice was about faith and maturity, but not the way most people were thinking. I embarked on a journey in which I had to let go of the past and my dreams, and cling to an intimate relationship with Jesus instead. I learned to live a life of faith as I trusted God to do the impossible; heal me and my children and give us a new life, an abundant one.

At first, I trusted no one.

As a Christian woman, I felt ashamed to have anyone find out that I had been divorced—twice! But we found a safe place within our church family where few people questioned me. We were loved and accepted right where we were. No one pressed me for details. No one judged.

After several years, I began to realize that there must be others who were suffering like I had. Perhaps they were standing in line near me at the grocery store or sitting next to me in church. I wondered if they felt lonely and misunderstood like I had? Were they afraid as I was? Did they wonder what people thought of them when they listed the various last names of their children or admitted they were separated or divorced? Did they cringe inside when well-intentioned people inquired about their husband? Did they want to hide? Were they wishing they could explain their situation so someone, anyone would understand, while at the same time wanting someone to understand without having to explain?

As the years went by, I became bolder in telling people about my past.

It began to dawn on me that silence was deadly, and Satan wanted things to remain hidden. His goal is to make us feel ashamed so we don’t feel we can come to God. He wants us to fear others’ opinions of us.

My story is not much different than thousands of women all over the world. Some have suffered far worse than I, and others may not even realize they are suffering. For years I didn’t understand my own entrapment—the perspectives that kept me stuck in a place of death rather than life.

I long to offer hope where there is none.

Perhaps by sharing the redemption of my life as well as the shattered pieces of my past, a ray of light will break through someone’s darkness. Maybe a lifeline can be grasped. Regardless of how you feel, you are not alone.

Are you someone who is crushed by your past or even your present? Do you know someone who is feeling stuck in their life? Can I help you?