Seeking . . . Laughter Amidst Tears

I’ve just returned from the edge of the ocean.

In Heaven, there will surely be oceans.

waves

As I stood there on that edge, toes washed by the ever-changing line between liquid and land, eyes gazing out over fathomless depths of wonders, I began to understand . . . to understand that the God who did all of this . . . THIS! . . . He can most certainly take care of me, of whatever I face, of whomever I face . . . for what can man do to me?

You see, life has not been easy or even kind these days. The salt of the ocean echoes the taste of tears, and the waves crash like the storms of bitter hurts and sharp words.

But as I stood alone on that edge, my toes washed by that line between liquid and land, sorrows streaming, I saw them. A pair of shimmering dolphins, dancing through the waves.

And even now, I cannot help but smile, laughter chasing away sadness.

For I am not alone . . . never alone. My God . . . El Roi, my God Who Sees Me . . . is here with me. And He has given me this gift of shimmering, dancing dolphins.

A precious reminder that there is laughter even with tears.

This, I think, is the secret of joy, the promise of faith.

And so I will seek His gifts . . .

. . . I will sing of His greatness in the stillness and in the storms

. . . I will rejoice in His mercies in the shadows and in the light

. . . and I will be joyful, yes, I will laugh even amidst the tears.

I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;

I will glorify your name forever.

Psalm 86:12 NIV

Releasing Today!

From Genesis to Revelation . . . the inspired words of God are beautiful . . .

Words of hope . . . of love . . .

Still 2

of promises . . . always kept.

Still 3

Available today from your favorite bookseller!

 

Simply Grace . . . and Granmon

GranmonShe was my husband’s grandmother. At ninety-six, she was the reigning family matriarch. And now, she is a newly arrived citizen of the kingdom of heaven.

Today, her eyes—no longer weak or dim—gaze upon the face of her Savior.

Her feet—no longer stumbling—walk softly along streets of gold.

Her heart—once again beating strong and sure—is filled to overflowing with perfect love.

And her arms? I’m quite sure they’re wrapped tightly around the loved ones she’s been missing for so long.

Granmon . . . she will be missed—her spark, her smile, and, of course, her malted milk cake. But only for a little while. Because we have a promise. For . . .

our citizenship is in heaven. (Philippians 3:20)

And, one day, our feet will walk along those same golden pathways, our eyes will gaze upon the face of our Savior, and our hearts will be perfectly filled.

And our arms? Oh yes, they’ll be wrapped tightly around Granmon and all those loved ones we’ve been missing. That’s the wonder of God’s promises, and that’s . . .

simply grace.

Simply Grace . . . and Simply Sweet

check yesIt’s that time of year again.

The time of roses and romantic dinners, of heart-felt sentiments scrawled across heart-shaped cards. These cold, mid-February days find us in love-struck celebration of all things sweet.

But the sweetest of sentiments aren’t found those on a card, in a note, or even etched into candy-shaped hearts. They are those found in the words of your heart’s most determined Pursuer. For it is in His words that you find the story of the Greatest Romance, the story of the One who gave everything simply to win your heart.

His words . . .

They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
Psalm 19:10 NIV

And His question for you, though life- and eternity-altering, is really quite a simple one:

Do you love Me?

Will you check “yes” or “no”?

Simply Grace . . . and Words

TBible versehe sermon this past Sunday centered around the five love languages. For those who know me, it’s probably no surprise that my own love language is that of words.

Words have always held a tremendous fascination—perhaps borderline obsession—for me. Continue Reading

Releasing Today!

Jesus Today for KidsReleasing today . . .

my latest work, an adaptation for children of Sarah Young’s beloved Jesus Today. Check it out at your favorite bookseller today!

Simply Grace . . . and Cooking

mixing bowlI love to cook. No, really I do . . . or at least that is, when I know what to cook . . . and when I’m not rushed . . . and when no one fusses about what I choose to cook. So basically, five to six times a year—seven tops—I love to cook. Other days, it’s sheer survival.

I’m always on the lookout for new recipes. But before adding a dish to my culinary repertoire, it must pass three tests: it must be simple to make, fast, and considered fabulous by at least three out of four family members—and no, the dog doesn’t count. But finding recipes that pass all three tests is no easy task.

Is it just me, or are today’s recipes a bit . . . well . . . over the top?

I mean, sure, for holidays and special days and sometimes even “just because” days, I can kick it up a notch in the kitchen. But for Tuesday-night-after-practice and Wednesday-night-before-church dinners, is there really a need to zest and grate, whip and purée? Couldn’t we just keep it simple?

And do you ever feel that way about faith?

Jesus did, I think. He took all the laws—hundreds and hundreds of them—and summed them up in two beautifully simple ones:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39 NIV).

Simply love . . . simply grace.

Thank You, Jesus.

Now . . . what to fix for dinner?

 

A Super Simple Supper . . .
Place 3 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a slow cooker. Cover with half a bottle of your favorite bbq sauce. (My crowd loves Sweet Baby Ray’s.) Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Shred the chicken, and add more sauce, if desired. Serve with a steamer bag of veggies and your favorite bread. Simply yummy.

Seeking Joy . . . and Finding It.

peace, mountain

Though the mountains be shaken
    and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
    nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
—Isaiah 54:10 NIV

Unfailing love . . .

promised peace . . .

compassion . . .

This is joy.

 

 photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/35557234@N07/5975314337″>Sunset Watching</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

Seeking Joy . . . A New Day

Sunrise

It’s a troubling world we live in.

But then, I suppose, it’s been a troubling world from the moment we stepped from the Garden. The names change, the places and times change, but the struggles? They remain so very much the same.

And those struggles can be . . . overwhelming, weighing down hearts and hope, washing away dreams, and drowning joy. It’s the joy that I’m missing these days; it’s the joy I’m wishing I could see. So . . . I’m seeking.

“Seek and you will find”—that’s the promise of Matthew 7:7, the promise of our Lord who is faithful always, who is good always, and who keeps His promises always.

This seeking . . . it’s a deliberate journey to a different way of thinking, an outright adventure, a holy quest to live life abundantly.

Join me?

Because, yes, it’s a troubling word . . . but it’s also a new day.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.
—Psalm 143:8

Go ahead. Take the challenge. I dare you to think about this life we live in a different way. Seek the joy in this new morning . . . seek the Lord’s unfailing love . . .

How is God showing you His love today?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/43322816@N08/4381739649″>Photo of the Week – Sunrise at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge (DE)</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

Susanna

The-Book-of-Life_472_315_80

Susanna.

As I was reading my Bible this morning, I stumbled across her name in Luke 8:3. Though I‘ve read this verse many times, this is, perhaps, the first time I noticed her name. Susanna is one of several women who helped support Jesus and His disciples. The study notes in my Bible say that nothing else is known about her. But her name is written in His Word. Susanna.

How wonderful!

Her name is written there for everyone to see, for everyone to know that she loved the Lord. What a life she must have lived for Him, for her name to be recorded in His Book.

And then I remember.

My name is also recorded in His Book (Luke 10:20; Revelation 20:15). Not the Bible, no. But the Book of Life. And if you have become His child, your name is written there too.

How wonderful!

“Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Luke 10:20

100 Things

100 Things

An excerpt from my newest book!

Day 1:
God loves your story.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
—Psalm 139:16

You have an amazing story. How can you be sure? Because it was written by Yahweh, the Lord God Himself, before you were even born. He knew every twist of the plot and every unexpected turn. Every joy, every sorrow. Wherever you go, He has already been. He will walk before you and with you as Lord and Guide and Friend. And when you entrust your story to Him, He promises you the best of endings—a happily, heavenly, forever after.

At this time of year, thoughts and images and stories of love are all around us. But the greatest love story of all time is ours to claim:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
—John 3:16 NKJV

God loves you—yep, you! And He loves your story. For 99 more things that God loves about you, check out the book at your favorite bookseller!

Snow

Snow

Snow.

It doesn’t often snow here where I live.

So it’s a photo-worthy event. 😉

I love the snow. It blankets the muddy starkness of winter with a newness—bright and clean and fresh. It leaves the air clear and crisp.

I breathe better, more deeply when it snows.

Snow makes me smile.

And snow reminds me of . . . grace. Grace that blankets the muddy starkness of mistakes and misspent moments with a newness—bright and clean and fresh. It leaves my heart clear and my mind crisp.

I breathe better, more deeply in the presence of Grace.

Grace makes me smile.

This beautiful blanket of snow will melt in just a few hours. That’s just the way it is in the South. But my blanket of Grace—it lasts for always.

And that makes me smile.

“For it is by grace you have been saved . . . ”

Ephesians 2:8

What she really needed . . .

string“Are you crafty?” said a voice behind me.

I looked up at those words, and I saw . . . myself, or at least someone very much like me, about a decade or so ago.

A young mom stood before me, preschooler in tow and toddler in the basket.

“Are you crafty?” she asked again, a hint of desperation creeping into her voice. “I’m looking for string. To make a spider web. To help with their fine motor skills.”

I smiled and remembered those days—those days of trying so hard to teach little ones all they need to know and of being so frightened of leaving something out, leaving something undone.

So, as I led her to the string, I said, “It gets easier. It’s hard at first, but it gets easier.”

Her relief was visible, almost touchable, and so I smiled again. “You’re doing a great job”—because sometimes you can just tell—“and it’s going to get easier.”

She took the string and went on her way. But as I later thought about our encounter, I realized that although she was looking for string, what she really needed was . . . hope.

I wanted to find her, then, and tell her so many things . . . about life, about motherhood, about doing all that you can, day in and day out, until your eyes ache and your legs burn and you’re ready to collapse in a heap on the still-not-yet-vacuumed floor.

I wanted tell her that I understand about doing all that you can and still feeling inadequate . . . not enough.

I wanted to tell her that she doesn’t have to be perfect. That love covers a multitude of sins and that mommy hugs erase those mommy failures that we all have.

I wanted to tell her that there is hope and light and love and laughter. That there is One who would give her the strength to keep comforting at 3 a.m., the patience to play just one more game and read just one more book, and the love to wipe away one more tear.

But most of all, I wanted to tell her that there is One who will wipe away her tears, who will comfort her heart, and who will be her strength when she is weak.

Because that’s what He did—and does—for me.

The truth is this thing we call “life” is hard. It just is. But it’s that hardness that sends us searching for Him. And it’s the mistakes, the mishaps, and the imperfections that carve out space for His grace. Yes, it is hard, but there is hope. And there is joy. And there is laughter and love and light. We only have to open our eyes and see it—see Him. Because He is the One—the only One—who takes all this crazy and makes it . . . wonderful.

That’s what I want to tell that young mother . . . and you . . . and myself. Because when we’re out there searching for our bit of string to hold it all together, what we really need is . . .  Him.

For so long, I thought I was the only one who needed to learn these lessons about life, but I’m beginning to see that I’m not alone. So I want to invite you to my join me in my learning. I want to welcome you to my thoughts, to my wonderings and wanderings, to my attempts to live to His glory . . . to find Him in the midst of this crazy-wonderful, mixed-up, messed-up thing we call life.

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.”

—Jeremiah 29:12–14

Remember . . .

Praying for Dallas

Our love should not be only words and talk.

Our love must be true love.

And we should show that love by what we do.

1 John 3:18

*from God Is Always Good
copyright 2014 by Tommy Nelson