Is Your Default Yes or No?

Is your default answer yes or no? Do your kids hate asking you for permission because the answer is usually no? It can be easy to quickly say no, instead of doing the hard work of listening carefully and coming up with a healthy way to say yes. 

When my 10-year-old daughter came to me and told me she had written a book, I could've easily said, oh that's nice, and gone on with my life. That was a key moment for me to see her passion and find a way to help her. 

I didn't know what to do, but I knew how to track down the people who did. I spent hours and hours and hours co-laboring with my daughter on her book. Now she's 12 and is working on her 3rd book, and her older brother is working on his second! He said he figured if she could do it, he could too. 

Of course, there will be times where we have to say no, but let's not let it be our theme. Negativity kills creativity. 

Key Idea: Don't be the kind of person who has a problem for every solution. Find a way to get to a YES!

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What to Do When You Don't Know What Else to Do

What do you do when you've done everything you know to do, but you still aren't getting your breakthrough? I'm talking about when you have really taken time to make sure that your heart and actions are obedient to the Lord, you've prayed, you've fasted, you've forgiven, and still there's no movement.

When you get to this point, there's only one thing left to do: STAND. You take your stand, and you don't let anything but God move you.

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Stubbornness tends to get a bad rap, but if there was ever an appropriate time to be stubborn, this is it! 

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand... Stand firm then. Ephesians 6:13-14a NIV

To go deeper with this concept, check out the book Sit, Walk, Stand for an inspiring look at Ephesians and the believer's association with Christ, the world, and satan.


Bonus: I've included the following video of a great song to reinforce this concept in your heart and mind as you go about your day.

 
 
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If this post touched you, I'd love to hear about it. Don't forget to share it with your friends as well. 

Tips for Being Present

It is very easy for me to get lost in my own agenda and tune out the people I love. I don’t mean to be rude, I just get into task mode, and once I’m there, I can be hard to reach.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed when I don’t have my to-do list straight in my head. I can easily get caught up in thinking about all the stuff I wanted to work on, even if I don’t plan on working on it that same day. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when I don’t have my to-do list straight in my head.

Tomorrow’s to-do list can easily creep into today.

Solutions to this problem are:

  • make a to-do list so that your head feels clear
  • set the list aside
  • realize that you don't need to worry about tomorrow's tasks today
  • focus more on the important people in your life and your connection with them, than on being productive

Key Idea: When it’s all said and done, family is more important than tasks.

 

Know well the condition of your flocks,
And pay attention to your herds.

Proverbs 27:23

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It Was the Very Wishy-Washy Time of Night...

Many nights at bedtime my mind kicks into high gear with ideas and strategies for how to best do all the things I want to do in life. I feel so inspired that I almost want to skip the whole night and get started right away on the next day. Other nights I start to feel bombarded with doubts. I think we all have a certain time of day that doubts try to creep in.

If I ever feel doubtful it is generally at night before bed. Things that seem like a wonderful challenge during the day tend to be much scarier at bedtime when I'm worn out. I am always the most vulnerable and discouraged at night when I'm tired.

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It is so helpful to know this about myself. I am able to notice when I'm feeling unsure of myself which gives me a chance to choose to set my worries aside and reconsider my life with renewed perspective the next morning.

I have also learned that when I'm feeling doubts creeping in I should never make any important decisions. I would never accomplish anything important in life if I didn't put off decision making until I have a peaceful perspective.

Each day has fresh grace from heaven and sometimes the grace for the day runs out just before it is time to close your eyes and recharge. Things generally are much clearer after a good night's sleep.

Merry Christmas

Christmas is the time when we remember the mind-blowing fact that God became a man! He loved us so much, that He chose to humble Himself and become one of us so that we could be in relationship with Him again. 

You see, the whole reason He created people in the first place was to be with them. He has not given up on His original desire. He really desires you!

As we take time with our friends and family this Christmas season, let's remember that our desire for connection with each other is a reflection of God's desire to connect with us. 

Emmanuel - God with Us

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How To Overcome Fear & Worry

Did you know that you can live in perfect peace? Did you know that fear and worry are tools of the enemy to keep you from your destiny? I'm so tired of the enemy tricking us into thinking that fear and worry are some kind of normal emotion.  

It seems to be so socially acceptable to worry about our kids or family members. But in reality, fear and worry are evil spirits that we can choose to stand against or agree with.  

We are in a battle. We need to see it for what it is and fight. Let's not agree with the enemy and let him have place to rule in our hearts.

We have to be aware of our self talk....the voices in our head. Every thought you have is not your own. The devil whispers lies constantly, and we have to practice recognizing them and not agreeing with them.  

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It is great to have a healthy friend or spiritual parent to tell your thoughts to. They should be able to help you decide where the thought is coming from.  

When we agree with God's thoughts towards us, we grow in peace and joy. When we agree with the enemy, we open the door for him to come in and destroy our peace.

Holy Spirit is our friend and helper. We need Him so much. As we take time to value Him and soak in His presence, He fills us up.  

The enemy will do everything he can to keep you from spending time with God. I bet everyone of us could come up with a huge list of reasons why we don't have time to spend resting in God's presence. It really takes practice.  

Quieting the heart does not come natural to everyone. You have to really set aside 15 minutes to practice. Put on some worship music that touches your heart and invite Holy Spirit to come.  

It's helpful to have a notebook to write stuff down. When you remember things you need to do, write them down so you can deal with them later.  

Write down things Holy Spirit whispers to your heart. If you take time to practice spending time with God, it will become easier. Getting to that place of peace and rest is vital. 

Key Idea: You do not have to agree with fear and worry. 

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3


 
 
 

When It's Time to Push

Recently I had a few days where I felt like I was pushing against a brick wall. I had all of these things in my heart to accomplish, and had been working towards them with diligence for many months, when I came to a spot where I smacked into what felt like strong resistance.

As I was driving down the road thinking things through, I passed a middle school football field. That was the moment when I was able to put my jumbled up, frustrated feelings into words. I felt like I had been pushing against one of those blocking sleds they use in football practice.

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Having that picture in my head brought me relief and peace. I realized that I was actually in a good spot. Sometimes to get something off the ground you have to push. Pushing is hard, painful work. The fact that it is time to push means that something awesome is about to break forth.

When I was in labor with my first son, there was a distinct moment when the pain became so strong, that I just wanted to stop, climb out of the hospital bed, and go home. I had been waiting for that day with all of my heart for nine months, honestly for my whole life. When the pain became overwhelming I just wanted to "stick a pin in it" and try again another day.

Turn back the clock another 23 years. When my mom was ready to give birth to me something crazy happened. When the time to push came, her doctor instructed the nurses to hold her off for what turned out to be several hours. This delay caused physical damage to my mom. She had to have follow-up surgery and ended up only being able to bear two children when she would have liked to have had more.

Sometimes you just have to push! Quitting is not an option, and delay is dangerous.

This is the moment when the resistance actually works for you. Great breakthrough is imminent if you keep pressing forward.

Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. John 16:21 NASB

I'm realizing that my biggest breakthroughs come when I keep pushing.

(Please do not take this as permission topush against God or against your leaders in a rebellious way. That is definitely not what I am suggesting. If you push too early, you will birth a preemie and go through a lot of added stress.)

Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it?I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,Rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19 NASB

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Looking for gift ideas? The Stick Family Book is hot off the press. It would be a great gift for anyone who likes to laugh, especially for reluctant readers! Check it out here

The Stick Family Book by Elijah Olson

The Stick Family Book by Elijah Olson

See our other books here

How I Got Past the Pain from our Failed Adoption

Do you ever feel like your head is fractured?  Like the plates of your skull are literally pulling apart. That's the picture that comes into my head when I think back to the most painful holiday season I ever went through.

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A few years ago our family went through a very difficult season when we experienced a failed adoption. We had a toddler foster son living with us for over six months, and just before the adoption was due to go through, everything fell apart.

That season was one of the hardest times of my life. Parenting that precious boy felt to me like it must feel to parent a terminally ill child.

To some that may sound too dramatic or even insensitive to those who have lost biological children. All I can tell you is that is how I felt. There was so much uncertainty.  

Uncertainty is very hard for me. I like to "make a plan and work the plan!" Hourly we were waiting for word to confirm or deny that this baby would be ours forever. I guess I always had a sinking feeling that things weren't going to go the way we hoped.

I remember having days where I would literally daydream about escaping. I would imagine how wonderful it would be to just sit all alone in a dark, silent room for hours. It was like there was just too much noise and uncertainty spinning all around me, and I needed peace.

After we got the news that the little guy would be moving on, I spent the next few months just recovering and resting. The grief process just takes some time.

It was extremely painful because the authorities involved had told us to bond with him and get him to bond with us because he was going to be ours. I have a clear memory of him lying his head on my lap while I patted his back and called him my baby. He would repeat it back to me in such a sweet secure little voice: "my baby."

Having to send him off from our home when there was no way on earth we could explain to him what was happening felt like such a betrayal. It broke my heart. Our final days with him were right between Christmas and New Years.

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Looking back I can see how much the Lord held us during those devastating moments. He sent some wonderful people into our lives who loved us well when we really needed it. Though I felt like everything was falling apart, God was actually building strength deep inside of me. That incredibly hard time built perseverance. I cannot say that I lived in perfect peace, but I can say that I fought hard to stay in perfect peace, and it was worth the fight!

After a couple years of grieving,  I attended a church service with a guest minister. He shared about peace and took us through an exercise to let go of pain. That night was a turning point for me. In a matter of minutes I was able to let go of the deep pain that had been trying to swallow me alive.

A friend of mine wrote a book with the basics of the model that I learned that night. The book is written to kids and teens, but it definitely is usable for adults as well. This book can help you move past any kind of pain and grief.

TRUE PEACE ONLY COMES THROUGH JESUS.

Stayed Upon Jehovah,

Hearts are Fully Blest,

Finding as He Promised,

Perfect Peace and Rest.

-Francis R. Havergal

How Big Is Your But?

 
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I know that God works all things for my best, but........ things just never seem to work out for me.

I know that God is good, but........ only to other people.

I know I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, but.... I don't really think that applies to me. 

Pay attention to the words that come to your mind after that sneaky little word "but." This is how you can tell what you truly believe. 

Don't let your thought life drift along with the natural current of the world's patterns. Be intentional to make your thoughts line up with God's truth.

The Bible clearly teaches us what we are supposed to think about.

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

The fact that we are given this instruction shows that we don't not have to be captives or victims to our minds, but that we are powerful to decide which direction our mind goes in.

Once you start to realize what your true belief system is, you can start to cooperate with Holy Spirit to transform your thought processes. 

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

Key Idea: Read the Word of God every day to reduce the size of your but.

When Your Journey Isn't Glamorous...

When you have a big dream, you need to also have a big willingness to stay in the pursuit of it day after day. So, what do you do when you're faced with so many days that feel just plain boring and ordinary?

My husband, Christopher, travels internationally a few times a year to minister in churches and conferences. He always says how it's so exciting until you have to spend all night traveling. He loves preaching and praying for people and seeing God pour out His Spirit. After he's done and heads to the airport, it's not quite so exciting. The discomfort that comes from a lack of sleep and the challenge of trying to find elusive sleep while sitting up in a chair is less than glamorous.

The thing is, you can't minister internationally without going through the hard work of traveling.

Falling in love and getting engaged is thrilling, but a life time of true love includes many days of laundry, housecleaning, and being faithful to show up at work so you can pay the bills.

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Finding out you're going to bring a new life into the world is amazing, and the day the child is born rocks your world like nothing else can. In between the two events you go through days and weeks of uncomfortable growing and waiting.

Raising a child is full of exciting milestones. In between the milestones, you pass through uncountable moments of behavior training and mess cleaning.

I'm always amazed at Olympic athletes who train all day year after year for an event that only lasts 30 seconds! Talk about maintenance! 

Even famous people who are doing the things you dream of doing have maintenance days.  

It can be easy to get lost in the swirl of the maintenance. Don't lose heart, faithfulness always pays off in the end.

God is just so good and so faithful. Even when we get off track or discouraged, He is always weaving everything together to get us back on track.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil. 1:6
 

DON'T GIVE IN TO APATHY OR BOREDOM.

KEEP STIRRING UP YOUR DREAMS AND ENCOURAGING YOURSELF IN THE LORD!

When Wisdom Turns Into Fear

I like to research and thoroughly think things through before moving forward or making a decision. While this habit is wise, if taken too far it indicates a problem.

The problem comes in when we get so worried about making a wrong choice, that we can't bring ourselves to make a choice at all. This is what the Bible calls being double-minded.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:5-8

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God has all of the wisdom you need to make a good choice. You do not need to be bound by the fear of making the wrong choice. Ask God to help you, then make a choice grounded in peace and move forward knowing that you can readjust if you need to.

Key Idea: A confident person is not paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake, because they realize they can recover from a mistake.

How To Avoid Falling Into A Messiah Complex

Having a messiah complex (living as though it is your job to make sure everyone in your life is happy) is a sure way to live your life completely stressed out. But not falling into this behavior can be a real challenge when you really care about people. It’s so hard to watch people we care about self-sabotage, and sometimes we just really want to swoop in and try to "fix" other people's lives since they don't seem to be able to do it for themselves.

The bottom line is: each person is responsible for their own heart and life.

You can lead by example and encourage others to follow, but when it’s all said and done, people have to make their own choices.

This truth is really important for parents and leaders. We can easily get caught up in the idea that it is our job to fix everyone and everything. The problem is, though we are to be like Jesus, we are not Him.

  1. You cannot control anyone besides yourself, and if you try to, you will make yourself crazy.
  2. Don’t try to do the work of the Holy Spirit. Take time to be filled up with Him, then partner with HIm to help others by letting Him flow through you to do the work that only He can do.

Key Idea: It’s time to present the people you care about to the Lord, and leave them there. If you notice yourself starting to move into worry and codependency again, just hand them back over to God as many times as you have to.

This is not unloving; it is actually obedience to Jesus. He commands us not worry, and He knows what’s best.

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How to Get the Grace You Need to Be Able to Forgive

The other day I posted this quote on social media, and I got some questions about it. I'd like to take a moment now to expound on it. The quote was:

 
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If you keep trying to forgive but can't seem to let go, you might have fallen into unrighteous judgment.

We all know that holding unforgiveness in our hearts is not the pathway to living in peace, but as much as we may want to forgive, the actual letting go can be really, really hard.

Here's the thing, if you feel like you've tried to forgive but just can't, you probably have moved from being hurt into the sin of unrighteous judgment. 

I'm not saying that it is always wrong to judge. In fact, there is a time where judging is actually appropriate. You can read more about that here.

Things get messy when you start to judge out of a critical heart. If you want to be free, you will need to actually repent of the judgment and ask God to forgive you for it. When you do, grace will come to your life. 

Key Idea: If you’ve fallen into the sin of unrighteousness judgment, repent of it and ask God to forgive you. This will unlock grace for you to truly forgive.

Here are a couple of resources (from some heroes of mine) on this subject: 

https://www.amazon.com/Grace-Forgiveness-JohnAndamp-Carol-Arnott/dp/1894310756

https://www.amazon.com/Grace-Forgiveness-JohnAndamp-Carol-Arnott/dp/1894310756


I'm excited to announce the release of my 3rd book, 30 Days of Peace & Hope!

 
Can you imagine how your life would look if you walked in peace and hope every day? Jesus gives us peace and then commands us to not let our hearts be troubled. This is both a gift and a responsibility. Let’s take the next 30 days to work together on cultivating a peace that leads to lasting hope.

Can you imagine how your life would look if you walked in peace and hope every day? Jesus gives us peace and then commands us to not let our hearts be troubled. This is both a gift and a responsibility. Let’s take the next 30 days to work together on cultivating a peace that leads to lasting hope.

 

How To Wait Without Getting Impatient

Have you ever noticed that God doesn’t seem to be in a hurry? As much as we might want Him to get things moving, He doesn’t seem to ever get impatient.

God is not constrained by time. He created time and is outside of it.

The Bible tells us that God’s Kingdom is always increasing and advancing. He knows that He wins in the end, so He doesn’t need to worry at all.

I’ve noticed a pattern in my life where God will start to highlight a subject to me a year or two before I start to see movement in that particular area. It’s like I start to feel passionate about fixing a certain problem, or I get a new idea well before the window of time that the people around me are ready for it.

This used to bother me, but now that I have realized the pattern, I’m more easily able to wait patiently and stay out of frustration.

God’s timing is perfect. The journey between the idea and the fulfillment of the idea is an important time of personal growth and clarity of purpose.

Don’t get impatient in the process. Wait on the Lord.

Wait for the LORD;

be strong and let your heart take courage;

Yes, wait for the LORD.

Psalm 27:14

 
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How To Resist The Devil's Plan To Keep You From Intimacy With God

I love Holy Spirit so much. He's just so good. The intimate fellowship that I experience with Him is like nothing else in this life. It fills me with peace that is beyond comprehension.

I know that this is a huge part of what Jesus was talking about when He said, "I come to give you life, and life more abundant."  

I'm so thankful to Jesus that He went to His Father and sent Holy Spirit to us: the Spirit of Truth who teaches us everything we need to know.

The devil hates for us to experience this sweet fellowship with Holy Spirit. He whispers so many lies to keep us from this divine connection.

Some of the lies he used on me over the years were:

  1. You're not really hearing from the Lord or feeling anything really spiritual. You are just making it up. 
  2. You're not as spiritual as other people, so you might as well serve others and not even try to have spiritual encounters. 
  3. If you were really spiritual, you could connect with God without using music as a crutch.    

Wow, do you see how accusing those statements are? I had to learn to recognize where the thoughts in my head were coming from.

Key Idea: Any thought that is keeping you from spending time with God, is not from God.

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What freedom! When I realized that all of those years I really had been so sincere in my love for God, and that He knew it and loved that about me, I started to enter into His presence in a whole new way.  

Now when I spend time with Him, I have confidence. I know that I love Him, and He loves me. I have thoughts running through my head like: 

  1. Holy Spirit, I love You so much. I love it when You come and spend time with me. 
  2. Jesus, thank You so much that I'm clean, and it's my nature to love.
  3. Father, thank You that I'm Your child, and You love to give me good gifts.

That's a little of my journey in connecting with Him, who is our Life. I hope you are encouraged to keep working towards heart connection with the One who loves you like no other!

How To Live In God's Favor

If you’re like me, you want to be wise and avoid making foolish mistakes as much as possible. To do this, we need to remember that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It is literally the starting point to living well.

The fear of the Lord is a beautiful thing. It causes us to run to God, not away from Him.

If you want to live in God’s favor:

1.     Live in radical obedience to Him. Whatever He asks, decide to obey Him.

These days there is such an emphasis on doing whatever makes you “happy.” This is worldly wisdom and is complete foolishness. Living for momentary pleasure outside of God’s ways is a recipe for disaster, not peace and hope.

If Jesus is your Lord, you must say “yes” to whatever He asks you to do. Saying “No, Lord” is an oxymoron.

2.     Put your hope in God’s love for you.

Ask Him to tell you how much He loves you, then live in that reality. If you feel like you don’t hear an answer, remember that He showed His love for you by sending Jesus to die for you. There truly is no greater love.

Pursue God’s favor over your life, just like Jesus grew in favor with God. When God is for you, no man can be against you.

The Lord delights in those who fear him,
    who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Psalm 147:11

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The Best Way to Wait

We’re all waiting for something. There is a real emphasis today about being present, but as much as we may want to live in the moment, we will always have to keep the tension of leaning into what’s coming next.

While you’re waiting, be joyful. Don’t mope around watching the calendar or clock. Choose to have a positive outlook along your journey.

Even when things aren’t going your way, you can live in joy. You can either live in hope about your future or dread. A powerful person of peace looks at the future with hope.

Laughter is such great medicine, but when we’re feeling blue it can feel like so much work to laugh. It’s important to find a way to kick start the laughter. Personally I love to watch an old comedy. Those old black and white shows can really help me shift into joy.

You may not like that style of comedy, but it is important for you to find something to help get your laughter flowing.

If you’re feeling unwell or are lacking joy, ask Holy Spirit to help you. Ask Him to show you any lie that you’re believing and what the key is to unlocking the joy. After all, joy is one of His gifts.

Be joyful in hope,

patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12 NIV


As always, don't forget to share this post to help spread the word about living in peace.

HAVE A GREAT, PEACE FILLED WEEK! - BETH :)

What to Do About Bedtime Anxiety

Many nights at bedtime my mind kicks into high gear with ideas and strategies for how to best do all the things I want to do in life. I feel so inspired that I almost want to skip the whole night and get started right away on the next day.

Other nights I start to feel bombarded with doubts. 

I think we all have a certain time of day that doubts try to creep in; for me it's usually at night. Things that seem like a wonderful challenge during the day can tend to be much scarier at bedtime when we're worn out.

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We are always the most vulnerable and discouraged when we are tired.

Start to pay attention to whether there's a certain time of day that doubts usually try to creep into your mind. You should avoid making important decisions at that time of day. You will accomplish so much more in life if you make decisions from a place of peace.

Things generally are much clearer after a good night's sleep. When you're feeling unsure of yourself, choose to set your worries aside and reconsider your life with renewed perspective the next morning.

Each day has fresh grace from heaven and sometimes the grace for the day runs out just before it is time to close your eyes and recharge.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety. Psalm4:8


Here's one of my favorite songs

for refocusing and de-stressing:

4 Ways to Have Peace From God

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  1. Start each day turning your heart to God in prayer. Most of us like to start off the morning with a hot cup of coffee. Let that first sip be a reminder to turn your heart to God in gratitude.
  2. Be intentional about learning God's ways. The best way to learn God's methods is to read His book. If you don't know where to start, I recommend John chapters 14-16.
  3. Trust that God will lead you each step of your life journey. Choose to shut down all of the "what if's" and believe that God knows what's best for you and is working to bring it about. Your "missteps" will never be too big or messy for Him. 
  4. Determine in Your heart to follow Jesus every day from now on. No matter what anyone else says or does, be a sold out Jesus follower. Jesus has a lot of fans: people who like Him. Don't just "like" Him, make Him your Master.

Here's the audio of a blessing I gave recently at Heartland Church

3 Steps to Living in Peace

How are you doing today? Have you stopped to take your internal peace temperature? I really want you to know that true, lasting peace is available to you, no matter who you are or what your circumstances may be.

John 14:27 says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

Peace is a gift, and it is a responsibility. Jesus gives the peace to us, then He tells us it is our job to make sure we stay in it.

There is only one pathway to true peace: absolute obedience to Jesus Christ. This is the starting point to true freedom.

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Once you start to live in peace, abundant joy is right around the corner!

JOY HAPPENS WHEN YOU HAVE SO MUCH PEACE

THAT YOU CAN'T HOLD IT INSIDE ANYMORE!

John 15:10-11 goes on to say, "If you keep My commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

  1. Keep His commands
  2. Stay in His love
  3. Thrive in His perfect peace & joy

KEY IDEA: IT IS COMPLETELY POSSIBLE FOR YOU 

TO LIVE IN ABSOLUTE PEACE AND JOY!