Just sharing a conference announcement for all of my Christian writer friends… I first attended the Writer Development Track at the Black Church Leadership and Family Conference in 2014. I’ve been contracted to write for LifeWay’s YOU curriculum several times since then. Folks who are serious about investing in themselves and their writing careers should consider this amazing opportunity.
The aroma of yeast rolls and fried chicken wafts out from the fellowship hall and travels into the sanctuary. Suddenly, our focus shifts. Instead of feasting on the preached word, we anticipate the mouthwatering spread we’ll soon face. Before we can say amen, we strategically place one foot into the aisle and gather our belongings. We hope to get first dibs on dinner and dessert—a pound cake or peach cobbler, of course.
Okay, this may be an exaggeration, but you get the picture. When we anticipate something good, we can hardly wait to receive it: a new baby, a gift, a special meal, or maybe a visit from a distant loved one. But what happens when we receive something that leaves us puzzled, and consequently, we don’t know what to expect?
That’s the position I was in a few months ago. I was consistently drawn to two songs, “Safe in His Arms” by Rev. Milton Brunson and the Thompson Community Singers and “He’s Preparing Me” by Daryl Coley. I purchased and downloaded copies of the music. (I still play the songs daily.) Around the same time frame, I kept seeing verses that reminded me God would sustain me. Still, I didn’t understand it all.
Weeks later, though, I experienced a sudden onset of a chronic illness. When I felt like my body was shutting down, those verses gave me strength. Plus, the songs God put in my Spirit encouraged me. He had prepared me in advance for the struggles He knew I’d face. Everything became clear: I was indeed “Safe in His Arms,” and I was comforted in knowing God would sustain me. (Praise report: I’m much better, now!)
In the months that followed, He gave me additional verses to increase my faith. He’s used them to draw me nearer to Him. I’m sharing some of them with you today in hopes that you, too, will gain strength from God’s Word. Click here to read them.
Dear sister in Christ, you, too may have recently received some news you didn’t expect. Perhaps you anticipated something good, but it hasn’t yet occurred. If so, the stench of doubt and mistrust could easily waft into your personal space and change your focus. That’s why it’s important to have your own arsenal handy: Scriptures that speak to your unique situation. Gather them. Say them aloud. Then, trust God in the meantime, and know that whatever your concern, God is in control. He’s got this. Yes … even this.
When a good friend tagged me on Facebook requesting that I share three things daily that I was grateful for over the course of the upcoming week, I complained, “That’s just one more thing to put on my to-do list. Ugh.”
But, I had enjoyed reading others’ posts in this so-called Positivity Challenge. It couldn’t be so horrible, right? After all, it would force me to embrace a mindset of thankfulness.
By day five, I was hooked. Still, I debated whether I’d share what I was really thankful for that day: 20 pieces of chicken I’d cooked for dinner. Why? I didn’t always have food in abundance. I remembered my season as a single parent when funds were low. I could only afford about one meal per day while pregnant with my first child, and my weight had dropped to just over 100 lbs. Conversely, two decades later, as I wrote the Facebook post about it, I realized my situation had reversed completely. For that, I was grateful.
That Facebook status update on August 27, 2014, ended up being one of my most popular posts. (See the corresponding image at the right.) And to think, I almost decided not to publish it. I nearly talked myself out of participating in the challenge altogether. I thought I wouldn’t have enough time to ponder which scenarios I’d post. I wondered if anyone would even care.
However, sometime during the challenge, I realized my efforts were worthwhile. Compiling my list of praises became the highlight of my day. Sometimes I had more praises than space to jot them down. And, soon, I realized not only had I encouraged myself, but others were uplifted, as well. My outlook had changed significantly in the course of seven days.
Now, more than ever, I realize we all can make time to be grateful … to remind ourselves how far we’ve come. What are you doing to challenge yourself to show gratitude and make it a priority daily?