You are not alone (a song) & a visit to...

You are not alone (a song) & a visit to...
I know some of you are going through deep waters right now. Praying this song comforts and encourages you: "I Am Not Alone" sung by Kari Jobe "When I walk through deep waters I know that You will be with me When I'm standing in the fire I will not be overcome Through the valley of the shadow I will not fear." Photo used with permission of Flickr CC User: Jenny Downing Subscribers, listen here for the rest of the song. God promises expressed poetically: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,    I will fear no evil,for you are with me;    your rod and your staff,    they comfort me.  - Psalm 23:4 ESV When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.    When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.When you’re between a rock and a hard place,    it won’t be a dead end— Isaiah 43:2 MSG       "The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail your or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." - Deut. 31:8 Prayer: Dear God, I pray for each person who feels as if the deep waters will overcome them. Give him/her strong assurance that s/he is not alone. You are with him/her. May s/he press deeply into you and cling to your promises. Be their strength. Be their defender. Be their refuge. Let them trust you enough to let You be their strength, defender and refuge. Thank you for your faithfulness. In Jesus' name, Amen. P.S. It is time for my monthly guest post at Tweetspeak Poetry...hope to see you there. Thank you. Here's a teaser: "Docent Martina G. of the San Jose Museum of Art held a mini iPad as the tour began in the museum’s light-filled lobby. Her blue eyes sparkled next to her buzzed blonde hair. Martina strolled to the front entrance and asked us to look up at the cathedral ceiling. Above us hung three different Chihuly sculptures with their waving sinewy glass tentacles, which we hadn’t earlier noticed. The largest one was mostly a pale baby blue and evoked a cascading waterfall. A young boy thought the red bulbous one looked like an octopus. A woman said the yellow one reminded her of Medusa." Read the rest at Tweetspeak Poetry Tweetspeak Poetry.

A Postcard (Of Sorts) To You because I appreciate you!

A Postcard (Of Sorts) To You because I appreciate you!
Dear Friend, I've missed you. Your kind e-mails, prayers and comments have deeply touched me during my short blogging break. To let you know your prayers are making a difference, I wrote you a postcard of what God has been saying to me. Praying it will encourage your heart. Photo used with permission via Flickr User: Fred Moore On Saturday morning, I listened to a webcast by Lysa Terkeurst about her latest book, The Best Yes, which felt like a big hug from God. It felt like God telling me my "best yes" was to take a week off from blogging and to make more time to listen to Him. I fought feeling guilty and indulgent. I fought to hear God saying, "I accept you - just as you are - gifts and weaknesses, so you need to do the same." I believe, help my unbelief, God. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the webcast: To pray each day to find my "best yes": "I want to see you today, God. I want to hear you today. Help me to pay attention." "The more we do battle on our knees [in prayer], the less we battle in our flesh [with fleshly sins like pride]." "Every decision will point your life in a particular direction." But we don't need to feel overwhelmed about a decision, as Liz Curtis Higgs reminded us: we can ask the Holy Spirit for discernment. We each have a different level of "full" so we don't judge what someone says "yes" or "no" to...For me, it was to not judge myself harshly because my plate gets "full" faster than another person's plate. No comparing. No judging. Grace for others. Grace for myself. "Not every assignment is my assignment." (For us over-responsible types...) "Overwhelmed schedule=underwhelmed soul." "Don't confuse the command to love with the disease to please." Every "yes" requires a "no." Practical tip from Lysa on what to notice: If saying "yes" to something makes me feel dread, drama or see disappointment in my kids' eyes, then it may be a warning sign, telling me to say "no." From a wise friend of mine: Try not to make any major decisions when you are "HALT" - which stands for "Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired." Hope these little nuggets also encouraged you. Love, Dolly      

Why I'm taking a short blogging break

Why I'm taking a short blogging break
Over sixteen years ago, I began having pain in both of my forearms. The pain increased until it affected my ability to work, sleep, use chopsticks and manually move the stick clutch on my car. I will spare you the details of why the pain (a repetitive strain injury) got so bad, years ago. The pain is manageable if I respect my limits...I'm still learning to listen to my body and respect its needs. Photo used with permission of Flickr User:Sharon Mollerus   For a few months, I have been sensing the need to take a short break from blogging. It humbles me to accept my limits and the way God designed me. I will take a break, maybe a week or two, from blogging. I need to honor my soul's need for quiet and extra time in God's presence as I recover from several things. Nothing life threatening, just life draining. God has gifted me this time so I want to be wise and take it. I ache for extra time in the Life Giver's presence and love (Psalm 42). After I read Emily Freeman's post about her seven week break from blogging, I decided to say "yes" to taking a break. "It takes courage to choose rest because you know what you are letting go of, but you do not know what you are stepping into. And so rest can feel like a risk. Fear is a loud and abusive motivator – of being left out or left behind."- Emily Freeman For me, I realize it takes courage to trust God's call to rest and to not worry about being left behind in my writing. Oh, and today, I also read Deidra Riggs' great post on prayer:   "I am not trying to convince you prayer is all we need to set the world straight. That’s like saying God only wants ten percent of you and me. When it comes to spiritual battle (...spiritual battle is a real and necessary thing), prayer is the starting place...In prayer, God makes the next step clear." - Deidra Riggs Besides a blogging break, I have also been feeling a nudge toward greater prayer when I read of all the suffering in the world. "The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer." - 1 Peter 4:7 So I'm taking a short break from blogging to carve time out for deeper soul rest and prayer in the midst of life. Thanks for understanding as I blog and visit other blogs less. Soul Stops Moment: Have you ever felt a need to take a break from something you love doing? What did you learn during your time of rest? How can I pray for you? P.S. But I will keep my commitments at Tweetspeak Poetry; Jumping Tandem Retreat; and the occasional once a month Saturday post (which is only for blog subscribers).

Three benefits if you journal (& a peek into mine)

Three benefits if you journal (& a peek into mine)
As I sat at our kitchen table to write, I noticed a sheet of paper sticking out of our church directory. Curious, I pulled it out and laughed when I saw it was a torn out years-old journal entry. Photo used with permission of Flickr User:Walt Stoneburner As I read what I wrote almost five years ago, two things struck me: 1. What I wrote back then was still relevant today; 2. Although I still needed the reminder, I had matured in this particular area over the past few years. Before I share what I wrote in my journal, here are three benefits to keeping a journal: 1. Writing or drawing in a journal helps you to process and/or make explicit what may be hidden inside of you. 2. It is a memorial stone of where you were at a particular time. It builds your faith. 3. When you look back in your journal, it can encourage you to see how you've grown. Or it may show you where you need to change if you've fallen into a bad habit. Either way, it can motivate you toward positive change. What I wrote on 12/7/09 in my journal: "Jubi [our dog] is very good at communicating what he wants. He goes to the door & scratches &/or barks when he needs to go out. He nuzzles me when he needs some extra love and petting. Oh that I could be as clear at recognizing & communicating my needs." "In the book, Becoming a Family That Heals, Dr. Bev Rodgers points out if one grew up in a family where one's needs were not met &/or one was shamed for having legitimate needs, it makes it hard for one to identify what one needs." "In the book, there was a list of basic human needs. I found the list helpful..." "It has been a journey to give myself permission to identify my needs & to not feel guilty &/or ashamed." "It is okay to take time to relax. I do not need to be productive every single second of every single minute of every day." "I do not need to say "yes" to a request just because I can. I need God to guide me to whether this is a request that is right for me.*" [* paragraphs added for clarity]. - End of my journal entry - Because of differences in personality and upbringing, we each have unique struggles. What struck me is how much I still needed to be reminded of what I wrote almost five years ago. My family is happier when I identify my needs sooner so I don't push myself past my breaking point. Life cannot always be managed to avoid all breaking points but I've learned I have more control than I realize. One of the biggest things I've learned is to say "no,"  and to rest in my identity as God's beloved so I don't say "yes" as a way to prove my worth to another person. I've improved in this area, but I sometimes fail. But when I read my journal and see how far God has taken me, it gives me hope to pick myself up and keep walking. Soul Stops Moment: If you journal, what benefits have you experienced? Which benefit listed above might motivate you to journal if you don't already? P.S. I don't journal every day but I aim for daily. Thanks for being here. Subscribers: I'm working on my next issue of Saturday Specials - I hope to have it out either this Saturday or the next Saturday. I'm linking with these encouraging friends: Holley Gerth, Jennifer Dukes Lee,and Lyli Dunbar of Thought-Provoking Thursdays.      

What you need to know about conversion

What you need to know about conversion
Conversion [becoming more Christ-like in character] is a process; it is a goal, not a product we consume. And it's a bodily process, not only an emotional or intellectual one. The very cells in our body are busy changing, renewing themselves...Yet we remain recognizably ourselves. That is how conversion works, a paradox... - Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, 42 Photo used with permission of Flickr User:Karen As part of the maturing process, God allows difficulties and dark nights of the soul (see James 1:2-4 & Heb. 12:7-11). I wish I had known earlier: God doesn't allow trials (James 1:2-4) because God is displeased with me. By trials, I do not mean the natural consequences of bad choices, although God can redeem even my bad choices if I let Him. God sandpapers my soul's rough edges using trials, if I cooperate with God's Spirit(*), so I can become all God designed me to be and more loving like Christ. After decades of walking with Christ, I am learning - bit by bit - to trust in the slow work of God. Soul Stops Moment: What has been your experience of maturing in your relationship with God? What spoke to you from the Norris quote? (*) Whenever, I haven't cooperated with God, my trial lengthened. By cooperation, I mean being honest with God about my struggle but also being open to learn what He might be teaching or showing me through the trial. Ultimately, it is trusting God acts out of love not malice towards me (Romans 8). Honestly, I prefer looking back after a trial ends and seeing how I've grown (Heb. 12:11) to being in the middle. Welcome, if this is your first time here, and you liked what you read, join my e-mail list and receive my Soul Care Manifesto e-book, blog updates and other exclusive content. Linking with encouraging and gifted friends: Barbie of The Weekend Brew and Sandra of Still Saturday.