The Upside of Winter

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning friends! I hope you’re staying warm and dry. We’ve had some bitter weather along with a few inches of snow, followed by warmer weather. The sun took a few days off, which contributes to the chill.

But I’m not complaining. In fact, there are things I really love about winter.

Scenes like this one. And the next one–

Yes, it’s cold out there, but isn’t it beautiful?

I love dressing in layers, topping it all off with a comfy sweater and mittens. Thick socks and boots. I’ll be tired of them by spring, but for now–

We don’t always have much winter in our area, but even the deep south caught this latest blast. I think it will probably satisfy their snow cravings for a few years.

So when the windows look like this, I hope you can find the time to look like this–Have a wonderful week!

A Lesson in Love – Support Your Local Author

Hello, Thursday Morning, and all those who happen by today.  Most of our part of the country received a blast of Arctic air this week, along with snow. If you were snowed in, I hope you enjoyed your time off.

I poured myself an extra cup of coffee and enjoyed the view. I don’t mind snow, as long as I don’t have to get out in it.

I’ve been thinking about writers this week. Most writers work hard and make very little. A few hit it big and make a name for themselves. Some end up working it as a job, others as a hobby.

If you’re a writer, you know the loneliness of pursuing the craft. Sometimes, a writer’s own family doesn’t realize how much “blood, sweat, and tears” goes into the work they do. And when the work is done, and the book is out there–its creator is biting his or her fingernails, waiting to see whether anyone will read it. Or like it.

Do you have a writer in the family? Here’s a way you can support that loved one. Buy the books. Don’t wait for your writer friend or family member to offer you a freebie, those books cost her a lot of $$. Head out to the bookstore, or click over to Amazon and buy the book.

Display the books. Have a bookshelf dedicated to the writer you love.  Brag on her when company comes. Displaying the books may catch their interest enough that they go home and buy the book.

Give the books as gifts. Make the gift special by getting it autographed.

Read the book. Okay, this one may be the most difficult. You don’t like to read, you don’t like your writer’s style. Not everyone likes the genre the writer may have chosen. In that case, at least skim the book. Read the reviews on Amazon. Get an idea of what’s in the book. Talk to the your writer friend or family member about their research, which may have been extensive. This may bore you to tears, but remember, we’re talking about love here. You are showing your support.

This is how you encourage your local author. It also shows that you love this writer and appreciate the hard work that goes in to each of their creations. Help your star shine, if only for a moment.

…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. — Ephesians 4: 1-3 NIV

Overwhelmed? You’re Not Alone

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning!

I know the year is brand new, but I have to ask, are you feeling overwhelmed?

Believe it or not, even experts tell us they feel overwhelmed and under equipped on occasion. I recently read this in a daily devotional from Anne Graham Lotz: “Again and again, I’ve been confronted with hard choices when I’ve had to throw caution to the wind and abandon myself to faith in Him, and Him alone…”

In Ephesians 3:8, Paul talks about his lack of expertise, and how he was the least qualified among the disciples. He continues with:

God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities. And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head,… [Eph. 3:8-9 The Message]

Overwhelmed: to overcome in thought or feeling; totally submerged. The ancient word, “whelm” means to engulf entirely, as with water. Interestingly, the word “helmet” comes from this word, but I’m getting distracted by an attractive rabbit trail. 🙂

Whether we’re totally submerged in fear, doubt, or feelings of incompetence, we shouldn’t regard it as a stone wall or a dead end.  Many among the famous suffer fear and doubt, but the key is, they don’t let it hinder them. They step out anyway, like Peter stepping out of the boat, onto the water. He wanted to walk on water like Jesus, but fear and doubt overwhelmed him.

Another key is found in Ephesians 3:12, “When we trust in Him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go.

Did anyone else think of Star Trek? “…to boldly go where no man has gone before…”

Paul’s response is to get down on his knees and pray. He recognizes that he can do nothing on his own, but he can do all things through Christ. He can do whatever needs to be done, whether he is personally qualified, or not.

A few years back, I was working for a civil engineering company. I had worked for almost six years as a secretary/receptionist, but I had done almost every clerical job in the place. I did whatever was asked of me, even filled in for the bookkeeper in her absence. When that position opened under its new title of business office manager, it was offered to me first, but I was afraid. I didn’t feel qualified. So another person was hired.

Turns out, this person had lied about her qualifications when she applied for the job, so, I ended up doing most of the work, for which she took credit. She received the business office manager’s salary, though I was actually the one doing most of the work. When it was discovered, she lost her job, and the position was given to me. I still didn’t feel qualified. Many times, I struggled with fear and doubt. But I kept going. I took classes and earned certificates. I became qualified.

This didn’t really lessen my fear, but I did feel more equipped to do the job. And years later, the experience helped me get other jobs. If I had listened to my “inner” voice, and spent time in prayer about this, I probably would have accepted the position, saving myself and the company a lot of time and trouble down the road.

My conclusion is that it’s human to battle overwhelming feelings of fear. If you’re a person with a normal (not overblown) ego, you will have to fight that battle often. I’ve dealt with fear every time I step onto a plane, or head someplace I’ve never been. It’s daunting. But when I face these circumstances with faith, after spending time in prayer and listening, I have the strength to push past that fear.

Queen Esther had to battle fear in her circumstances. If you know her story, you know the reason for her fear. She could die, simply by approaching the king (her husband) without being called into his presence. But the overwhelming element was this: if she didn’t approach the king, the entire Hebrew  population could die. All of her family and friends. And, as her Uncle Mordecai told her, she would not be safe either, if the secret of her lineage became known.

How did she overcome her fear? The Bible tells us she declared a fast, spent time in prayer, and listened. She heard from God, who gave her the plan that would save not only her life, but an entire nation.

Sometimes, it comes down to this: What if I don’t go? What will the consequences be? Who will suffer besides me? Esther stepped out in faith. Peter also did, but his emotions overcame his faith and he went under. Jesus didn’t let him drown, however. So my take-away from that story is, Jesus won’t let me drown in my insecurities. With each new experience, my faith is built and stretched. If I fail, I’m stronger for having tried.

What is your most overwhelming fear? How do you overcome it? I’d love to hear from you.

Here’s an excellent blog written by a friend of mine, especially for those who face fear: Jerusha Agen’s Fear Warrior Blog

Resolution With Purpose

Note to self: This is the first Thursday of 2018. Make it count.

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning friends! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. In a way, it’s difficult to believe the season is already behind us. Did your holidays rush past like a whirlwind, or drag by, like a tired sloth?

I hope the former is true, because that means you enjoyed lots of activity. Now, on to the business at hand.

Are you a resolution person? Or do you roll with flow? (Click to Tweet)

I often resolve to do what’s right, but that resolve tends to dissolve a couple of months into the year. So, this year, I need to pay more attention to the small things. Toward the end of 2017, I became overwhelmed by all the to-do’s on my list. Too late, I realized I’d said “yes” too many times. My to-do list became a ball and chain.

I was so overwhelmed and discouraged, I even shelved my latest work-in-progress. Sound familiar? Why do we do this to ourselves?

Thankfully, all the kinks worked out. As soon as I set that WIP aside, the inspiration returned, and I was able to get back to it and finish before the end of the year–with hours to spare. 🙂

How do I avoid the traffic jam at the end of the year? It comes back to the paying attention. I need to be careful and prayerful about the things I say “yes” to. I need to think them through. I don’t want to be too hesitant, and miss out on things, but which ones are those? How do I determine what will end up on my list?

So my New Year’s resolution is to be determined. That sounds funny, as though I’m not sure what my resolution is, and I’m putting off the choice of one–TBD. That’s not the case at all. I aim to be more determined in my efforts this year. I want to accomplish the things I set out to do, whether that is taking care of my health, stretching myself intellectually, or spending more time with my loved ones. I’d love to do a bit of travel this year. Study the Bible, and share the love of Jesus more. Research a new book, and make lots of new friends.

These are the things that count in life. I hope you’ll do a bit of soul-searching, examine your heart and life and come up with something similar. Set your mind on it, and don’t give up. Keep yourself accountable. Leave me a comment, if you like. Share your resolution, or your word for 2018. Share your blessings.

Make life count.