31 Days of Praise {Day 12} Grace Under Fire

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. – 2 Cor 9:8

After reading Lisa B.’s “31 Days of WordPress” post today, I could feel her pain. There are some days when we could all use a little extra grace.

Lately, my business has been so very good (God has blessed abundantly!) that I’m finding it more and more difficult to stay on top of client requests and I’m having to turn a lot of new business away. I simply cannot do it all, nor can I stay on top of it, even working 12-18 hours a day.

Like anything in life, the stress is beginning to wear on me and it’s showing in my speech with others (I’m short) and my general attitude (I’m exhausted). It’s times like this, we must remember that God’s grace is sufficient. I love the acrostic for Grace, which I first heard from Dr. Adrian Rogers – “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”. Isn’t that a lovely picture? Grace is one of the most beautiful words in the English language.

When people truly understand grace, it makes them want to write songs about it. I think we could all use a little grace now and then. If we can’t get it from those around us and we hit a wall due to exhaustion, depression, anger, frustration, or sadness…all we need to do is look up.

I will praise Him today for the unmerited favor He’s extended to this undeserving sinner. Truly, God’s grace is sufficient to see us through.

Please visit the other ladies who are participants in the 31 Days of Ministry Online:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

31 Days of Praise {Day 11} When no one is listening

“Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.” Psalm 25:1

I’ll be the first to admit that blogging 31 days in a row is proving to be quite a challenge – especially when you haven’t blogged regularly in a year and a half!

Remember the days when people would actually stop by a blog and comment? There was even a time that I’d do the same. There was something so special about getting comments that fueled me on to want to write more. Write better. But lately, it seems we have all become so busy that the altruistic nature of blogging has become something of a lost art. Very few people comment, more people read in their readers and never click over to drop a line to let you know they’re still there.

And you’re left wondering. And waiting. And possibly splitting your infinitives. Writers should really learn to not split infinitives.

*Phoo Phoo* Is this thing on? Hello?

But you keep going, because whether or not you think anyone is listening, you have something that needs to be said. Even if you can’t remember to keep your story in first person and you switch back and forth repeatedly between first person and third person.

I said all of that to say this…even if no one else is listening,  especially when no one else is listening – God is always waiting to hear from us. He expects us to give Him the Praise He deserves – it’s either going to come from us or the rocks! I love this little video of a father and daughter singing the above verse. The singing starts at 1:45 – the little girl’s voice just makes me smile every time I hear her sing. 🙂

When was the last time you lifted up your voice to God in praise? Play that video again…listen to those words…

Please visit the other ladies who are participants in the 31 Days of Ministry Online:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

31 Days of Praise {Day 10} Better Plans

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” – Jer 29:11

Though this story has been told many times and it is lengthy, I believe it is worth retelling, especially coming off of the Christmas season as we just have. It is the story the the Three Little Trees, and is a beautiful reminder that God has plans for us, plans that are more beautiful than anything we could dream up. I’m not sure who to credit the story to, as it’s been all over the internet for years, so if you happen to know, I’d love to give them the credit!

Three Little Trees

Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked at the stars and said, “I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I will be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world !”

The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean. “I want to be traveling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings. I’ll be the strongest ship in the world !”

The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in the busy town. “I don’t want to leave theh mountain top at all. I want to grow so tall that when people look at me, they’ll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world.”

Years passed. The rains came, the sun shone and the three little trees grew tall.

One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain. The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, “This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me.” With a swoop of his shining axe, the first tree fell. “Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest, I shall hold wonderful treasure,” the first tree said.

The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, “This tree is strong, it is perfect for me.” With a swoop of his shining axe the second tree fell. “Now I shall sail mighty waters,” thought the second tree. “I shall be a strong ship for mighty kinds !:

The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the woodcutter never even looked up. “Any kind of tree will do for me,” he muttered. With a swoop of his shining axe the third tree fell.

The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought her to a carpenters shop, but the carpenter fashioned her into a feedbox for animals. The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold nor with treasure. She was coated in sawdust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals.

The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took her to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ship was made that day. Instead the once strong tree was hammered and saved into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and too weak to sail to an ocean, or even a river, instead she was taken to a little lake.

The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard. “”What happened, ” the once tall tree wondered ? “All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point to God.”

Many, many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night golden starlight poured over the first tree as a woman and her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and sturdy wood. “This manger is beautiful,” she said. And suddenly the first tree knew that he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.

One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat The traveler fell asleep as the second tree sailed quietly out into the lake. Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered, she knew she didn’t have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through the wind and the rain. The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand and said, “Peace.” The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly the second tree knew that he was carrying the king of heaven and earth.

One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldieries nailed a man’s hands to her. She felt ugly harsh and cruel. But, on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God’ love had changed everything. It had made the third tree strong. And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

So the next time you feel down because you didn’t get what you wanted, just sit tight and be happy because God is thinking of something better to give you.

Praise God today not only for what he has done for you, but what he is GOING to do for you!

Please visit the other ladies who are participants in the 31 Days of Ministry Online:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

31 Days of Praise {Day 9} Snowing & Planting

Photo credit to http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Nossirom

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. – Isaiah 55:8-11

We are in the midst of a winter storm warning, with snow and sleet and ice expected over the next few days. While many people are not looking forward to the storm that is headed our way, my kids are excitedly anticipating it. It means hot cocoa with marshmallows, a fire in the fireplace, and building snowmen.

To me it is simply a reminder that God is the Creator and Author of all things. God has ordained our weather this weekend, and He wants us to find joy and comfort in the knowledge that He has a purpose for it, even if we don’t know what that purpose is!

There are few things more beautiful than a fresh blanket of snow on the ground, unless it’s when life begins anew in the Spring and the plants and flowers burst forth from the ground, awakening from their wintry slumber. As Christians, we are called to plant the seed of God’s word in the hearts of men that are cold to Him, men that slumber in the icy grips of a wintry death. When we plant the seed of God’s Word in the hearts of people, God has said that it will not return to Him void, but that it will accomplish His purpose in that person’s life.

God sent His son Jesus to fulfill a greater purpose, one that is available to all men who call on His name.  John 1 tells us that “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Sharing His son Jesus (the Word John was talking about) as well as His written word (the Bible) with others is as easy as handing a tract to someone you meet in the grocery store, or writing a blog post about what God has done in your life. This is one of the greatest forms of praise you can give God – with a pure heart and sincere actions. I love this song by Nichole Nordeman called “Every Season” – it reminds me that God is constantly working in our lives. Isn’t that worthy of some praise?

My challenge to you is to plant a seed somewhere this week and then come back and tell us how it went.

Please visit the other ladies who are participants in the 31 Days of Ministry Online:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

31 Days of Praise {Day 8} – Praising in Adversity

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. – Prov 17:17

Years ago, I worked for a personnel agency as a recruiter. I didn’t particularly enjoy my job, because I was required to make over 100 cold calls a day. We were given a script to use as a guideline, but anyone who has been successful in cold-calling knows that scripts are just that – a guideline. They don’t prepare you for the sometimes frustrating and crazy things that happen in real life. Let’s just say that not everyone appreciates the fact that you are calling them, but the quota had to be met. It was a very stressful and fast-paced job – when we weren’t cold-calling, we conducted interviews and scouted for people to fill positions for our clients.

There were four of us in the office and we became fast friends because of the experiences we shared there. We spent time together outside of work listening to the other’s problems and frustrations, watching kids for one another, and supporting one another in any way we could. Over the years, we have all lost touch – one of the ladies moved out of state to get married, one got divorced and moved away, and I really have no idea what happened with the other one. But I still think about each of them from time to time because these were friendships born out of adversity. We all shared something in common and were able to minister to one another’s needs because of our situation.

I love the above verse because it reminds me that a true, hearty, faithful friend, loves in times of adversity as well as in times of prosperity. To no one person can this verse be applied with so much truth and exactness as to our Lord Jesus Christ. John Gill, a Reformed Baptist theologian, said it better than I ever could:

He is a “friend” of men; more especially of his church and people; of sinful men, of publicans and sinners; as appears by his calling them to repentance, by his receiving them, and by his coming into the world to save them.

He “loves” them, and loves them constantly; he loved them before time; so early were they on his heart and in his book of life; so early was he the surety of them, and the covenant of grace made with him; and their persons and grace put into his hands, which he took the care of.

And he is a “brother” to his people; through his incarnation, he is a partaker of the same flesh and blood with them; and through their adoption, they having one and the same Father; nor is he ashamed to own the relation; and he has all the freedom, affection, compassion, and condescension, of a brother in him: and now he is a brother “born”; born of a woman, a virgin, at Bethlehem, in the fullness of time, for and on the behalf of his people; even “for adversity”; to bear and endure adversity himself, which he did, by coming into a state of meanness and poverty; through the reproaches and persecutions of men, the temptations of Satan, the ill usage of his own disciples, the desertion of his father, the strokes of justice, and the sufferings of death; also for the adversity of his people, to sympathize with them, bear them up under it, and deliver them out of it.”

Spend a moment today in praise and thanksgiving to God for giving you friends born out of adversity – and for giving you a friend like Jesus. There is no one like Him!

Please visit the other ladies who are participants in the 31 Days of Ministry Online:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

31 Days of Praise {Day 7} – When We’re Busy

She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.  – Proverbs 31:13-19

Okay, confession time. It’s now 8p.m. on Day 7 of 31 Days of Praise and I’m just now finding time to write this post. When reading about the Proverbs 31 woman above, I get exhausted thinking about all that she does. I aspire to be her, but there are some days that I just can’t quite measure up to her, much less even imagine my children rising up to call me blessed.

Today has been ‘one of those days’. Between homeschool lessons, three conference calls, four website designs in progress, two blog moves, and church responsibilites, I was left feeling a little deflated and a LOT overwhelmed at the tasks on my plate. I wasn’t sure I had the energy (or much less, brain power) to write this post, and then the Lord brought Proverbs 31 to my mind. I hadn’t even come close to doing all she does and yet, I was ready to quit!

Of all the things we allow to “slide”, one thing we should keep front and center is our relationship with the Lord. He’s well aware of what is happening in our daily lives and how quickly we can become overwhelmed. We never intentionally stop spending time with God or praising Him, it just sort of happens somewhere between that third and fourth load of laundry. If we are able to steal a few moments, they are usually spent on basics things such as taking a shower. {Can I get an “Amen” on that one?}

So all of that to encourage you to grab a few minutes {just do it now} and spend some time giving a prayer of thanks and praise to God that He knows what we go through on a daily basis. Ask Him to instill a genuine desire to spend more time reading His Word and praying. Ask Him to nudge you when you forget to give Him the praise He deserves.  In Isaiah 65:24 God says, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will answer.”

He’s waiting…are you willing?

Please visit the other ladies who are participants in the 31 Days of Ministry Online:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

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