Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

We Sing of His Steadfast Love that Endures Forever ~ Words of Life Wednesdays ~ A Link-up

{Join us below for Words of Life Wednesdays with a link-up of your post.
We'd love to hear how God's Word has been nourishing you.}
{Also linking with Coffee For Your Heart}


“Only let each person lead the life
that the Lord has assigned to him,
and to which God has called him.”
{1 Corinthinans 7:17}

To put it frankly, this is not the life I would have chosen for myself.

Is anyone really comfortable in the skin they are in? Can one truly be content in circumstances beyond control?

We are a people who like to take control? But we lose our footing and our faith is so small. And we realize we never really had much say in it all anyway.

The boy growing up without a father. The widow grieving her beloved taken much too early. The wife waking up to a nightmare of a trial she never would have ever dreamed. The husband holding on to hope when all appears to be hopeless. The mother who weeps for her child swollen with malnutrition. The loved one’s lives ended because planes are shot down.

This world wreaks havoc in our lives. We are the fallen people and we keep on falling.



We pack up clothes and kids like a can of sardines and drive to the Island with red-ribbon roads lined with pink and purple lupins and yellow buttercups, and the sapphire-blue ocean to celebrate life and to get a way from all of life’s uncertainties.

For forty years he’s been a wanderer in this world not his home, and no one can be sure of her days, so we mean to celebrate every moment to the fullest. We watch the tides and we dig for treasures, but there is no getting away from tragedy, and heartache, and loss, and death.

Not in this world.

But there is something greater.

We sing of it as we the wheels roll on and the kilometres click away and we get closer to the ocean.

Cause in this life, the one that I would not have chosen, really when I stop to consider all the good things God has graciously given, how can I not sing His praise.

“Oh, You’re rich in love and you’re slow to anger,

Your name is great and your heart is kind,

For all your goodness I will keep on singing.

Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.

The fallen ones who became the chosen ones who had faith in the One whose love never fails, they sang of it.

Of His goodness. His great wonders. In creation. In protection. In deliverance. And redemption.

Over and over they sing; giving thanks.

For His steadfast love endures forever.

The Good Shepherd leads us to quiet waters. He tends us lovingly. We stand in the setting sun and we see it all as grace upon grace. We wonder at His creation and we marvel at His goodness. We slow down and sing loud and stop to pick lupins and search for sea glass.

We open the window to the sea and open our eyes to really see.




Life ebbs and flows, tides of life rise and fall, eroding away hope, pulling down, but His love is as constant as the waves as it washes over me.

He is supreme over all and His steadfast love, His mercy never ends.



I don’t know why I have been given this life where I can sit before still waters and many mourn their loved ones shot down from the sky.

I can’t make sense of people dying from cancer and bombs, and babies crying from aching bellies and mother’s with broken hearts.

But this I know with all my heart.

The steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.

To Him I will give thanks with all the worshiping congregation. For He is good.

This is my ultimate purpose: that I would proclaim His excellencies.

It is the same as His ultimate goal: that His people would declare His praise.

Life may not always make sense, but this is how I always need to see it.

The life that I never would have chosen, but it is the one He has chosen for me.

In suffering we can endure and do good, we can follow in His steps because He is good and His steadfast love endures. {1 Peter 2:21}

To this we have been called.


And by His grace, for all eternity we will never stop singing this same song over and over and over.

Of His steadfast love that endures forever.

“Still my soul will sing your praise unending.

Ten thousand years and forevermore.”





Saturday, July 19, 2014

Words of Wisdom for the Week-end: How We Re-Member

“Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks . . . Then Jesus answered, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ And he said to him, ‘Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.’”
 {Luke 17: 15-19}



“This fallen world never stops dis-membering who we are. We’re all breaking a bit more everyday, even in small ways. And there, even as we ache, is the gentle whisper of God. With the quiet urging to give thanks anyways, to do this in re-membrance of Him. But why in the world give thanks? Why in the name of heaven? 
“Because when we remember how he blesses, loves us, when we recollect His goodness to us, we heal—we re-member. 
“In the remembering to give thanks, our broken places are re-memembered—made whole. 
“When we re-member all His blessings, we re-member all our fractures, and in giving thanks in the assembly it’s our very souls that re-assemble. 
“Is that it? . . . giving thanks to Him who let Himself be broken to make us whole, and doing this thanks in remembrance of His daily grace, it re-members and mends me and the pain eases. 
“The fracture lines in my heart all healing in this fusion to Him.”

“Lord, today, in the broken places, cause me to give thanks, to do what You ask, in re-membrance of You. So I may recollect all Your goodness, so I may heal and re-member.” 
~ Ann Voskamp, 'One Thousand Gifts Devotional: Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces

A Soft Gentle Voice

{Words for Wisdom for the Weekend: These are words that I have been challenged or encouraged by that I have read throughout my week that I kept pondering; words that I couldn't get off my mind and heart throughout my week. 

For other Words of Wisdom for the Weekend posts see here.}

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Be You, Only Braver {10 Ways to Live Brave} ~ Titus 2 Tips {on Thursdays} A Guest Post


All good things cast shadows.

That’s what Barbara Brown Taylor says, anyway.

And I imagine she’s right as the sun wakes up behind me, casting shadows all over my corner of the world.

I sip my morning cup of joe and I entertain the shadows that splay long and lean into the room. They grow smaller as the sun rises ever higher, the light pushing back the darkness.

I turn pages in my journal, running my fingers over the ripples in the marked paper and the word brave is found on nearly every page. I trace all the words. Brave is scrawled out next to fear and on top of doubt. Brave is written in red in the margins next to callings and tasks and invitations to go deeper.

And in the pages of my journal, I see what this wise woman knows:

All good things {calling, purpose, invitations to go deeper still}, do indeed cast shadows {fear, doubt, restlessness}.

I smile as I flip the pages of two years worth of living, and I push back the shadows as they become thin slivers around my feet.



I’ve been living the word BRAVE for the last seven months. And when I say living it, I mean Jesus has taken my word of the year and raised it to places I never anticipated going. I’ve spent months beating back all sorts of shadows as I’ve pressed on to the good things He has invited me to.

And here are the things I’ve learned when it comes to BRAVE living. These are listed in no particular order and my prayer is that you make BRAVE your word of the year in 2015. You won’t regret it!

1.) Lead yourself well. Examine your heart and your soul. Seek out a mentor to hold you accountable to your life in Christ, to your family, and to yourself. Be self-disciplined. Be a lifelong learner. Understand that life is a marathon and that soul care is necessary to finish the race well.

2.) Show up to your life. Look people in the eye. Reach across the street or across the table and touch someone’s arm. Ask hard questions. And then listen with your whole body.

3.) Do what you love to do, but belong to Jesus. The whole world is an altar and you’ve been gifted with things this world needs you to give away. So find out what you love to do, go do it, and belong to Jesus. Amen.

4.) Have a vision for what God is doing in your soul. Your worth is not found in what you do. It is found in Christ alone and He cares more about your soul than anything you can do. It takes tremendous bravery to stop the crazy and zero in on the one part of you that only Jesus sees.

5.) Fall on grace. Try things and love people. You will stink things up on occasion. And grace will catch you-every single time. Don’t waste your life waiting on a pure heart. You aren’t ever going to have a perfectly pure heart this side of heaven.

6.) Get still and quiet. Withdraw to a lonely place and sit with yourself. Become acquainted with who you are when still and quiet. And invite Jesus to find you there.

7.) Speak honestly about what you need and then let people in. Talk to your people and tell the truth about your hang-ups, your hurts, your deepest needs. And then let them in to the nitty grity parts of your life.

8.) Say no to the good things so you can say YES to the best things.
9.) Embrace your humanity. Let yourself wear skin! Be tired. Be hungry. Be sad. Be giddy. Be compassionate with yourself. When you show yourself compassion, you give others permission to do likewise.

10.) Don’t mind your own business. Know others. Tell them who they are. And then let Jesus love them through you.

Now, be you, bravely.



Lori Harris is a Southern-born girl rearing six children in a neighbourhood some would call the ‘hood.

 She and her husband, Thad, have planted a church on the wrong side of the tracks where poverty and racism run deep.

She coordinates a city-wide MOPS group, passes out PBJs to the neighborhood kids, and writes at loriharris.me.

A Soft Gentle voice
I am honoured to host these guest posts in this series on women mentoring women 
Some weeks you may find tips from the kitchen or healthy recipes, tools other women have used to grow spiritually, hints to help us build up and love our husbands, and lessons they have learned as they have walked along with their children to teach them to love God wholeheartedly, habits they have developed in keeping their home, ways they have worked on to keep their behaviour respectful, or rhythms that allow peace and rest in the home and hearts that dwell there within.
You will find all the posts in the series here. 
"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour,
not slanderers or slaves to much wine.
They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands,
that the word of God may not be reviled."

{Titus 2:3-5}


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Do Not Fear {Words of Life Wednesdays ~ A Link-up}

{Join us below for Words of Life Wednesdays with a link-up of your post.
We'd love to hear how God's Word has been nourishing you.}
{Also linking with Coffee For Your Heart}


When the way seems impossible

~do not fear ~

WITH God 

ALL things are possible.

When the troubles seem insurmountable;

~do not fear ~

WITH God 

You can mount up with wings like eagles.

When the battle seems unconquerable;

~do not fear ~

WITH God 

Take heart; He has conquered the world.

When the circumstances seem hopeless;

~do not fear ~

WITH God 

You can abound in hope.

When your heart is weary

~do not fear ~

WITH God 

He will lead you to quiet waters and your soul will find rest.


"Fear not,
for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name,
you are mine."
{Isaiah 43:1}









Saturday, July 12, 2014

Words of Wisdom for the Weekend ~ Trusting, Believing, Knowing



This weekend:

May you step out

with faith in God that does not waver

trusting

that He will be 

walk with 

you.

*

May you laugh

with the joy of the Lord

believing

that He will 

rejoice in

you.

*
May you rest

with peace that passes all understanding

knowing

that He will

never leave

you.

***

A Soft Gentle Voice



For other Words of Wisdom for the Weekend posts see here.}

Thursday, July 10, 2014

How Did You Do It? ~ Titus 2 Tips {on Thursdays} A Guest Post

I sat on our back steps watching the two of them work together - my husband, who has always been strong and the one everyone leaned on and my son, fully grown and married. 

They talked and laughed as they assembled a new barbeque. What else would men be putting together outside on a summer afternoon? 





My husband was recuperating from a bout with strep pneumonia which had kept him hospitalized for a few days. The roles were slightly reversed this Saturday as he needed the help of our son to do the things which ordinarily would have come easily.

Where was the little boy? 





We had raised our son hoping there would be days like this. Days, when you fully realize, the depth to which relationship has been forged.

I have often been asked ... "How did you raise your children so they turned out so well?" And my answer has most times been ... "I have no idea!"

We married young and had our children young. Looking back, we were so inexperienced with not only child rearing but with life in general. We made so many mistakes along the way. Two imperfect people. We stumbled and bumbled our way through the days and here we are, years later, a little bruised and scarred, feeling deeply and greatly blessed. 




As I sit watching them work together, His Word begins to stir in my heart and mind. It comes back to me.

Those mornings, for years, in which I rose early and turned the radio on, ever so softly, to hear the familiar and comforting voice of Chuck Swindoll. He became a "friend" and a "mentor" although we have never met. I hung on every word, taking notes on any scrap of paper or spiral notebook I had handy. I will never forget the day he shared this Scripture ....

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your
children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21, NIV)

And so, to answer the question of how I did it, may I offer these five suggestions I learned that very day:

Be sure to tend to your own heart and mind.

Make time each day to quiet yourself with God. I know it is hard as the kids demand much of your time. You may be exhausted. But do it anyway even if it is only for a brief ten minutes. You will be amazed at the difference it will make in you. And in them.

Be authentic.
Notice we are to teach our children as we talk sit,walk,lie down,and get up. In other words, it is during the normal daily occurrences of life. More often than not, it is through life's circumstances our children will begin to notice how real our faith is to us.

Be with your children.
If we are going to talk, sit, walk, lie down and get up with our children, we must be with them. With their life. With their friends. Exhausting? Yes! Worth it? Most definitely!

Be fully engaged.
When with them be fully engaged with them.Try not to be distracted with your cell phone or the internet or the television. Let them have your full attention. Divided and distracted time is truly not time spent with them.

Be ever praying.
Pray about everything concerning their lives—their friends,their education, their protection, their minds, their future spouses, their jobs, their teachers. Leave nothing uncovered. Keep praying. And don't stop, even after they are married!

"How did I raise my children so they turned out so well?" 

The answer truly is - by His grace!

And with His help. And He will be there to help you as well.  





Joanne recently celebrated her 35th wedding anniversary. 
She has two adult married children and her two granddaughters {whom she watches full time while their parents work} call her "Mimi".

She loves to read and write and began blogging several years ago so that her family would always know her thoughts as she processed life.

God's written Word comes alive to her as she views it through the simple daily occurrences. It is her joy to share with others in the hopes they, too, would find encouragement in His Word.
Joanne writes on her blog, Days & Thoughts and you can find her on Facebook and Twitter


A Soft Gentle voice
I am honoured to host these guest posts in this series on women mentoring women 
Some weeks you may find tips from the kitchen or healthy recipes, tools other women have used to grow spiritually, hints to help us build up and love our husbands, and lessons they have learned as they have walked along with their children to teach them to love God wholeheartedly, habits they have developed in keeping their home, ways they have worked on to keep their behaviour respectful, or rhythms that allow peace and rest in the home and hearts that dwell there within.
You will find all the posts in the series here. 
"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour,
not slanderers or slaves to much wine.
They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands,
that the word of God may not be reviled."


{Titus 2:3-5}

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Food Faith Feeds On {Words of Life Wednesdays ~ A Link-up}

{Join us below for Words of Life Wednesdays with a link-up of your post.
We'd love to hear how God's Word has been nourishing you.}
{Also linking with Coffee For Your Heart}





"Where lies the secret strength of faith? 
It lies in the food it feeds on: 
for faith studies what the promise is—and emanation of divine grace, an overflowing of the great heart of God; and faith says, 'My God could not have given this promise, except from love and grace; therefore it is quite certain His Word shall be fulfilled.' 
Then faith think[s], 'Who gave this promise?' It consider[s] not so much its greatness, as. 'Who is the author of it?' She remembers that it is God who cannot lie—God omnipotent, God immutable, and therefore conclude[s] that the promise must be fulfilled; and forward she advances in this firm conviction. 
She remember[s] why the promise was given— namely, for 'God's glory', and she feels perfectly sure that God's glory is safe, that He will never stain His own escutcheon nor mar the lister of His own crown; and therefore the promise must and will stand. 
Then faith consider[s] the amazing work of Christ as being clear proof of the Father's intention to fulfil His word. 'He that spared not his own Son, but freely delivered him up for us all, how share he not with him also freely give us all things?' 
Moreover faith looks upon the past, for her battles have strengthened her and her victories have given her courage. She remembers that God never has failed her; nay, that He never did once fail an of His children. She recollect[s] times of great peril, when deliverance came; hours of awful need, when as her day her strength was found, and she cries, 'No, I never will be led to think that He can change and leave His servant now. Hitherto the Lord has helped me, and He will help me still.' 
Thus faith views each promise in its connection with the promise-giver, and because she does so, can say with assurance. 'Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life!'"

~ Charles Spurgeon, 'Morning by Morning' [bold emphasis and formatting changes mine]




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