This morning I awoke to an old song:
I will rejoice for He has made me glad!
Until Next Time,
This morning I awoke to an old song:
I will rejoice for He has made me glad!
Until Next Time,
To Re-Joy or find joy again
To feel or show great joy or delight
To cause joy to
To be well or thrive
These are the thoughts that jumped out at me as I nosed around the Internet this morning, checking dictionaries, commentaries, and blogs. But here’s my favorite:
To experience God’s favor and be conscious (glad) for His grace.
I found that one on a blog. It said, “In the Greek text, the word is chairete which comes from the word chairo which comes from the root char meaning “favorably disposed, leaning toward . . . [It] is also a cognate of charis which means “grace.” Thus, we are not favorably disposed and leaning toward our circumstances; we are favorably disposed and leaning toward God’s grace.
So here’s the Paula version:
Rejoice – To thrive in God’s grace and live in joy by leaning toward relationship with God and not toward my circumstances. To “Re-joy” when joy feels distant by stopping to remember who God is and who I am in Him.
Loved your comments yesterday about YOUR rejoicing. I hope to hear from more of your today–and another rejoicing from those already participating! They encourage me–and I believe it encourages us to write these out. Here’s my rejoicing today.
I rejoice that Jesus made a way for us to live in constant, intimate relationship with our Creator. I rejoice that we can know He is there for us every single moment of our lives. I rejoice that sometimes He lets us actually feel His presence. And that when He doesn’t, ww have the promise of God’s own Word that He is there. I rejoice that because of Jesus the Holy Spirit dwells with us. Since we have leaned our hope upon Jesus and His saving grace, we are always, every second, day in and out, connected to all the love, hope, and power of the King of Kings. I rejoice that that we are never alone. When we feel loneliness, we can stop and thank God that He will never leave us by ourselves. I rejoice that Jesus made us ONE with God and that for the rest of our lives we can live in the perfection of community that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit rejoice in.
I am also grateful for His earthly gifts–which though I experience them here feel like a taste of heaven. Today I rejoice in precious relationships with His people here on earth. I’m rejoice that He has given me a loving husband, beautiful children, a joy-giving granddaughter, and good friends. I rejoice that He gives moments of fun, peace, and refueling. Like spending time with those I love. Reading a good book. Watching a good movie.
What do you rejoice in today?
Will you rejoice with me?
Here’s the thing. As I mentioned in earlier posts, I’m in a time of questioning. Not God. Not faith. Just how to navigate the recent challenges of life. It’s been hard for me to be consistent posting here while I’m processing–and balancing the joys and demands (there are both) of life change. But yesterday I was challenged to one simple thing. To rejoice.
Will you help me? Can we do this together? Over the next week, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment here that is focused on rejoicing in our God. We can always rejoice in Him, no matter our circumstance, right?
So here’s my rejoicing:
I rejoice that our God is a good God. A loving God. A God who never leaves us. I rejoice that God is personal. That Holy Spirit is always working within us and also in our life situation to shape us and grow us and make us more like Jesus. I rejoice that Jesus is good and that He offers us His goodness to replace the darkness that once dwelt in us. I rejoice in God’s many good gifts. Right now one of the most healing of His gifts is time spent with my baby granddaughter. I am very grateful. But there are other gifts, too. Like the crisp autumn air. Like cobalt blue skies. Like yellow leaves. I rejoice in the cheerful color of sunflowers and the fact that I could buy a small bouquet of them at the grocery store. A little splurge that lights up my kitchen.
Until Next Time,
(BTW, this post is also on my author/speaker page on facebook)
Need a quick pick-me-up each morning?
I post short, encouraging thoughts on my author/speaker page on Facebook daily.
Just follow me there! If you pin my page to the top of your feed, Flourishing Moments will automatically post to your timeline so you don’t have to go looking for them.
Here’s a sample:
The true essence of our destiny is living as a masterpiece. It’s easy to let our good works or our service become the focus. But God didn’t say our work is the masterpiece, He says we are.
Flourishing Moments are that pause in your day that helps you take a breath and refocus.
Hope to see you there!
(Lurk and read, like and share, or comment. I love to interact with readers there!)
Did you really begin writing A Packaged Deal when you were high school, you ask. Yup. True story. I have roughly fifty pages of cursive on lined notebook paper to prove it.
Yesterday I said that the stories that don’t go away are the ones you eventually have to write. This story stayed with me. Even though I didn’t complete it in that nine week creative writing class, I lived it in my mind, and it lurked there for many years. When it shouted for attention, I had my own seventeen year-old. Now that it is ready for the public, my children are grown and (usually) out of the house.
The call to finish the story which became A Packaged Deal grew louder when my middle son, Stephen, and my nephew Caleb competed with the Nederland Middle School ski team. Life was busy for the writing of the great American novel, but I thought I might be able to handle penning a romance amidst the hustle and bustle of four teenager’s activities. As I wound through mountain curves to drive Stephen and Caleb to Eldora Mountain, the little story I started as a seventeen year-old began once again to take shape, only this time the setting was a quaint ski town full of quirky and caring supporting characters. Now the heroine became a downhill racer, and the hero waltzed in as the handsome GM of a small-town resort.
Here’s the back cover copy of the NOW story:
Snuggle next to a fireplace in Towering Pines, the Colorado ski town where friendship is served up in hearty helpings and love is as true as the cobalt blue sky.
When Olympic hopeful Aspen Carlisle gave up her ski-racing dreams to raise her orphaned siblings, she found out the hard way that men aren’t interested in a “packaged deal.” Thrust into a stiff learning curve on motherhood, Aspen discovers the love and support of her friends in Towering Pines, but when the handsome new resort manager Stephen Wallace shows kindness to her little family, can she drop her guard long enough to allow him into that trusted circle—and her heart?
As Aspen struggles to believe in him, Stephen battles ghosts of his own. Time with Aspen and her family causes old issues to bubble to the surface. Does he have what it takes to push through the fear and regret, or will he stay stuck in the pain of the past? If he can believe in himself enough to become the husband and father they need, he’ll discover how wonderful a packaged deal can be.
The heart of the book dreamed up in Robert Wyly’s English class stayed true. A young woman’s life was interrupted when her parents passed suddenly, and she chose to raise her siblings. That was in the original story line. It’s precious to me, maybe because I love my brother, Curtis, so much. Sibling relationships are so important!
Originally in the seventeen-year-old version there were two men vying for the heroine’s attention, but the more grown-up me didn’t want to do that, so a man named Chad became the ex-boyfriend, and Stephen was the only one pursuing Aspen. (I actually don’t remember what the guys names were originally. I need to find that old manuscript and see!)
While today’s book is definitely the romance genre as was the work of that dreamy seventeen-year-old, this grown-up book works through faith, loss, and the struggle to hope in ways the high school version never could. I pray it blesses you! I absolutely love what the Free to Flourish publishing team did to make the book beautiful. Thank you to Lisa Joy Samson for the interior artwork and the Towering Pines series logo, to Bryan Butler for the gorgeous cover, and to Carmen Barber for her vision for a lovely interior design and layout.
It’s great fun to see a book dreamed up in my youth become something I can hold in my hands.
PS A Packaged Deal, which is the first book in the series about Towering Pines and its people, ends with a lovely Christmas Eve surprise, so it is perfect reading for this season and would make a great gift for the readers in your family. Consider purchasing it along with the Tinseled Tidings Collection. Both are available in paperback and on Kindle. Did you know you can gift books on Kindle to your electronic reading friends? In the case of these books, gifting electronically is a wonderful way to stretch the budget.
This piece of paper–and the promises here–has been on my desk for the last many weeks as I write Soul Scents: Flourish. It’s the deepest journey I’ve been on in many years. Maybe ever.
There are things I’ve not shared publicly. Things that shamed me and kept me hidden.
My friend Mary DeMuth says an untold story never heals. Her bravery has astounded me over the years. She and I are called to be writers and speakers. Our stories are meant to be told out loud, on paper, where ever Jesus sends us.
Your story may need to be told too. Only maybe you speak it to your best friend or a counselor or maybe you start with your journal in a private space.
For years my telling was in my journals. With the trusted few. In freedom sessions and counseling sessions. But now He says I’m strong enough for the telling He called me to. He says He needs me to tell in this way. He says I need to tell like this. Soul Scents: Flourish is this telling.
In the summer of 2015 I wrote several blogs, very raw blogs, that I never hit publish on. I sensed the Lord wanting me to write as if I were telling for the first time what only those closest to me have known and understood.
It was hard writing. At the time He asked me only to write those blogs, not to publish them.
Now it is different. Those blogs are part of the journey I write about in Soul Scents: Flourish, the intense walk of coming out of emotional, spiritual, and verbal abuse. I hid for many reasons. My shame. Because I thought in light of the abuse some of you have suffered that mine was unworthy of sharing. Because I wanted to “honor” those who hurt me by keeping it private.
I wrote a few things for publication. I have articles in Wounded By Words and The Gift of Letting Go, but I asked my identity stay hidden behind a pen name.
And the Lord was okay with that.
For a season.
Last year He asked me if my silence was honoring or simply protecting my abuser as I was taught to do. Somehow I equated honor with silence. I don’t know if that is what the church taught or if the enemy twisted all that in my head. Now I think to honor is to be all I’m created to be.
Then He asked (through much conversation with my husband) what might happen if I broke my public silence. He asked me how many lives could heal if I shared.
Then He told me when evil’s claw is inserted into our deep places that it is real. That abuse cannot be compared. That evil is evil, and when you’ve been damaged by evil, it affects you. While you have to process the circumstances, while what happens matters, it is the assault of evil that damages, the same evil, no matter how it happens. No matter how bad it looks to someone else.
I didn’t know when I started writing and publishing the Soul Scents series a year ago, that He would ask me to tell in this last book. I didn’t know it wasn’t only about telling, but that it is about healing for me. Deep, deep processing. Without pretty little Christian bows topping off stories that aren’t pretty.
He is my healer. The first three books in the Soul Scents series share much of my healing journey. A reader who has become a friend and partner in this ministry, Wendi, asked me what the story behind the stories was. She sensed that the hard-earned truth in my first three books had a deeper root. She was right. Now I tell that story.
And in the telling comes deeper freedom. Deeper release. Deeper healing.
It’s almost finished my friends. I don’t have a release date, but we are very close. The choice to publish this book is a game changer for me. A life decision covered in months and months of prayer. A choice I didn’t know I would ever make.
I pray this book will be a game changer for someone else too. That they will wake up to the shrouds of lies and twisted truth the enemy has poured over them. That they hear the voice of Jesus who sets them free instead of the voice of religion which holds them in bondage. That Scripture will begin to leap off the page with new meaning and that where it has been shaded and twisted it will now shine in pure light, offering the hope and freedom He intended instead of the putting those who are hurting in straight jackets and keeping them there.
That’s my prayer.
Please pray it with me.
And pray me to the other side of this thing.
Resting and healing last spring and summer sometimes felt unproductive and selfish, but the Lord reminded me my self-esteem is based in His perspective of Who I am, not on my ability to perform. My precious husband never pushed me to be productive. In fact, he prayed for me to rest Eventually I relaxed into the healing season and was able to thank God for it.
As fall came the Lord released me to work again. It shouldn’t have surprised me that the insights gained as I rested in God for the previous six month began flowing onto the computer screen as devotions. The fact that I no longer found it painful to write about the hard stuff is a beautiful testament to the healing the Lord gave as I laid down my dreams and looked to Him instead of forcing myself forward.
Striving and stress was non-existent in this work on the devotional book. Since there was no way it could release for 2016, there was no deadline. No inner push. Just writing with God about the great things He showed me.
Then one day the plan changed. And God did it without ramping up the stress levels. It started on a Saturday morning as I jabbered happily to my husband about how I now had almost a year’s worth of devotions in various drafts.
“Wait a minute,” my husband said. “What’s the word count on this book?”
I paused and did the math.
Because I was using a new program which allowed me to work in small chunks with multiple folders, there wasn’t a word count at the bottom of my screen that reflected the whole project.
“It’s too big for people to hold,” he said.
It dawned then. I had a year-long collection of quarterly volumes, not a single book.
A tiny thought pranced into my mind, “The first book in the series needs very little work.”
But it was November. Too late to follow my dream to release a devotional book for January 1st. Right?
I’d already decided this was not a book I wanted to hand over to traditional publishers, so its journey was just between the Lord, Jerry, and me (and anyone else the Lord invited into the process).
That day a very talented friend, Lisa-Joy, happened in for a visit. It was a rare treat because I hadn’t seen her in years. She was visiting Colorado, and we reconnected. As we drank our tea she asked what I was writing. When I told her about Soul Scents she offered to do the artwork! Lisa is not only one of the most gifted novelists I’ve read (her books are published under the name Lisa Samson), but her artwork is amazing, and she has recently started her own business offering coloring pages for adults.
Thanks to Lisa’s offer for artwork the niggling thought from the morning stood up tall. I had most of the components in place for a team who could publish a book–and not just a any team. This team was passionate, professional, and gifted.
By Monday, November 30th, Carmen (I told the Carmen story yesterday) and I decided we were going to trust God for a December launch of Awaken, the first book in the Soul Scents devotional series. By the end of the day we had the rest of the team in place!
The artwork which inspired the cover designs is what you’ve been enjoying throughout this post.
Pay attention to the progression of the design. Note the details–the color choice, the buds, flowers, leaves, the birds. Can’t you feel the maturing of the soul?
Lisa-Joy captured the heart of the Soul Scents message. When God plopped her into my lap He opened the way for a dream I thought was unattainable to become a reality.
As you dream your own dreams, remember there is ONE who is the Dream-Giver. He not only plants the dreams; He matures and births them. Nineteen years ago, heavy with baby number three growing inside, I surrendered my dream of writing to the One who asked me to slow down and focus on my children.
Over the years He’s slowly shaped the dream, allowing pieces of it to happen as well as asking me to hit pause periodically. But even when I was ready to toss the dream, He didn’t let me.
He keeps seeing my dream through, and He will do the same for you. After all, HE is the Dream-Giver.
PS Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the rest of the team and show you my amazing collection of all FOUR book covers!