Loving When It’s Difficult in the Month of Love

(Note: In the spirit of LOVE, I’ve got a friend that’s offering a great giveaway today. Read to the end to find out how to enter.)

If you’re here for the first time, visiting from today’s devotion “The Difference a Dose of Love Can Make”, welcome!

As I said in the devotion…

Loving others unleashes an explosion of God’s love.

I believe that to be biblical and therefore true, but it’s not always easy. There are difficult people in our lives:

The co-worker that seems to always undermine you.

The child who constantly challenges you.

The friend who focuses exclusively on herself.

The in-law who’s an out-law.

The neighbor who isn’t neighborly.

The church lady who’s always spiritually one-upping you.

These are all legitimate sources of angst, but none of the “causes”  are excuses not to love. They don’t let us off the hook for one clear reason.

Can I tell you? I KNOW that I’ve been the hard-to-love one, and Jesus could testify to that fact. Yet, He has loved me– and you– unfailingly. He is the faithful bridegroom that’s always there for us. Amazing. Hard to believe even, but true.

And so He calls us to love the difficult. The invisible. The unlovely. I don’t know about you, but I need some help with this. Here’s a short list of practical ways I’ve developed as I intentionally point my heart toward loving better:

We listen more than we speak.

This one is hard for a girl who has lots to say. Not only that, but I’ve mistakenly equated listening with agreeing. It turns out that one doesn’t equal the other. I’ll be exploring how to listen to others in a series I’ll start on the blog next week. Click here to join me. The more I listen to someone else, the deeper my understanding of them grows. Even when we’re not on the same page, a growing understanding deepens my empathy and love for them. It has never failed. Listening makes a difference.

We choose kindness even when others are unkind. 

Several years ago, a close relationship in my life had become distant through a series of hard circumstances. My usual method of dealing with this kind of situation is what my kids call “ghosting.” Instead of dealing with a difficulty in a relationship, I’d simply slip away. My friends would turn around and wonder where I’d gone. This time, however, God pricked my heart, challenging me to do something that would restore the friendship, and He gave me a tool. It’s a book called The Kindness Challenge by Shaunti Feldhahn. After following the steps in the book for 30 days, lo and behold, my friendship was restored. Kindness is a powerful, loving tool for improving difficult relationships.

We watch closely for opportunities to reach out to “invisible” people. 

Just like Babita displayed in my devotion today, there are people everywhere who need to be included if we’ll only open our eyes and ask God to show us. Just last weekend, I chatted with the housekeeper on the way into the bathroom at a conference center I was visiting. I complimented her on how beautiful and clean she kept the facility. It was a simple thing, but I meant it and felt compelled to tell her. On the way out, she introduced herself by name, we shook hands, and we had a lovely conversation. It wasn’t that I did anything that was a big deal, but I felt that it was a divine connection. A holy moment. Who might need a loving connection in your world today?

We pray for those who are challenging us. 

Can I confess to you? Although I have a naturally sunny disposition, once you’ve crossed me, I’m apt to either ghost or hold a grudge (or both). I certainly don’t want to pray for those who have crossed my lines! But prayer is another effective way to love others and to change our feelings about them. It’s impossible to stay mad or in a state of unforgiveness if you’re praying for someone. Impossible. We can love others well in our difficult relationships by praying for them.

To help you pray, my friend Kelly O’Dell Stanley reached out to offer 5 of her beautiful prayer calendars to give away today. Wooohooo!

To enter, simply leave a comment telling one way you’ve shown love to others, a way someone has shown love to you or your favorite option from my list today. It can be short and sweet!

Everybody can receive a free gift, though. Simply click on the graphic below to receive Kelly’s February calendar  when you subscribe. Thanks, Kelly, for loving on us!

At no additional cost to you, there are affiliate links in this post that help to defray the cost of website upkeep. If you’d like to read the full set of disclosures, click here.

signature
Leave a comment here | 84 Comments

Stoking the Flames of Your Longing Heart

Wowza!

When I wrote about “How to Prioritize Prayer in Your Busy Life” and then invited you to sign up for more prayer tools, I had no idea how many of you would respond. Over 3700 of you joined our group here last week. Miraculous! Thank you! 

(Note: My special resource for subscribers was sent 1.10.19. If you didn’t see it in your inbox, please check your spam. Moving it to your inbox will ensure that we can stay connected, and I’d sure love that!)

This community’s response told me something important…

I’m not alone.

Prayer is important to us, because we long to know God better. We want to talk to Him, and most importantly, we want to hear Him.

Hearing from God has been high on my priority list for decades, but it has taken precedence this January. In the process we’re going through here to develop tender hearts and strong voices, the first step has been the most important. Listen. It’s been the theme for weeks leading up to 2019, and I originally intended to do a blogging break all during January so that I can practice what I preach– listen. Everything you’ve gotten since early Dec. was pre-scheduled so that I could take a break just to listen to God.

But I recognize the longing in your response, and I couldn’t leave it unaddressed. I want to re-share some resources this week with those of you that have just joined our little community.  These are some of the conversations and thoughts that have fueled my desire to listen to God. As continue my blogging break through the end of January, I hope these will keep you going… longing… seeking God in prayer.

Here’s a video with an interview of my dynamic friend Laura Lee about how to hear from the Holy Spirit. Click here to watch it on the website.

Prayer and hearing from God requires dependence on Him which means surrendering my own control over things. Click on the graphic below to listen to one of my Grit ‘n’ Grace interviews about the book It’s All Under Control by Jennifer Dukes Lee.

Another way to hear from God is by studying Scripture. Click here to find out about a simple but profound 3-step Bible study tool God has used to speak to me personally through the Bible. A sample of my own personal notes is included.

There ya go– three more tools to enhance your time with God for the next three weeks. I’d love to hear which one helps or impacts you the most.

I’ll be back in Feb. with a series on how to really listen to others. God’s been speaking while I’ve been listening, and I can’t wait to share with you!

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

For any of you new folks that might be speakers or writers, I want to let you know about another “hat” I wear. I’m the speaker coach for Next Step Coaching Services. Click on the graphic below to read our latest blog post, and we invite you to subscribe while you’re there. You’ll receive “15 Surefire Ways to Grow Your Speaking Ministry” just for joining our crew of communicators.

 

signature
Leave a comment here | 2 Comments

Powerful Prayer in the New Year

Happy New Year, friends!

Do you love January 1st as much as I do? A fresh start feels so good… especially in the area of powerful prayer.

In today’s devotion, “How to Prioritize Prayer in Your Crazy Busy Life,” I shared about my 2018 word for the year, PRAY. There were so many lessons I learned, and I’m still learning.

In late November, I did an interview about listening to God through prayer with two of my gifted friends. Listen in to hear:

  • An fantastic acronym to use as a prayer tool (this one was new to me!)
  • A different kind of fast that just might change your prayer life forever

(Current subscribers, this is a re-run well worth watching again. Click here to watch on the website. If you missed it the first time, this is a great second chance!)

signature
Leave a comment here | 48 Comments

Embracing Your Imperfect Life

The tree is up, but there are pine needles on the floor.

The presents are wrapped, but I’m pretty sure “that person” will opt to use the gift receipt (like always!).

And the minute I think everything is scheduled perfectly, something will happen to throw me off.

Sigh…

‘Tis the season!

A decade ago, the list above would have thrown me off completely. In spite of all the wonderful things swirling around me at Christmas, the imperfections would have made me feel like everything was ruined.

That way of living was tough on my heart and on the people around me. I’m still very much in process, and perfectionism is the default I have to fight. BUT God has shown me that I don’t have to stay stuck. He’s gently moved me to a new place. A place of embracing my beautiful, imperfect life.

It’s truly a place of greater joy and more freedom.

(Note: Can I confess that I squealed and did the happy dance when I found out that my interview made the Focus on the Family list for Best of 2018? Subscribers, you helped accomplish that by listening. THANK YOU!)

For those of you visiting today after listening, thanks for stopping by! I hope you feel right at home, and I’d love for you to journey with me to Tender Hearts. Strong Voices. For more details and to subscribe, click here. It would be wonderful to have you join our supportive community.

At no additional cost to you, Amy uses affiliate links to help defray the cost of maintaining this website. For all the details, read her disclosures.

signature
Leave a comment here | 7 Comments

4 Powerful Steps to Help You with Hard Decisions

Researchers say that the average person makes 35,000 decisions a day. That’s 2,000 in an hour, and one every two seconds. Those are mind-blowing numbers!

I don’t know about you, but that level  of decision-making power, or discernment, feels beyond me. Hard decisions start to feel impossible. I just don’t know enough, and even though modern technology overwhelms me with information. No wonder our friends in the psychology world talk so much about decision fatigue. It makes me tired just thinking about all the tiny choices I’ll make each day.

Figuring it out.

Striving.

Researching… it’s all flat exhausting.

So what’s the alternative? Is there a better way?

Well, we can’t eliminate all our decisions. Some little things like what we’ll stir into our coffee will always be there, but we can roll the weight of our big decisions off of ourselves when we simply ask The One who knows.

When we exchange our own work for God’s wisdom, we discover that instead of finding answers, we start receiving them.

Thankfully, we have a beautiful example of a woman who received the answers she needed, and it’s woven into a Christmas story–perfect for this time of year! Mary was a young woman, wise beyond her years. She shows us four steps we can take when we’re tackling big changes in life. Let’s take a close look. (Although I’ll give excerpts here, I encourage you to open your Bible to Luke 1 to read the whole story.)

She Listened

“Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be” (Luke 1:29).

When I’m troubled by something that’s come my way, I usually spring into “fix-it mode” or start talking incessantly. I’m a verbal processor after all, 🙂 but it’s not helpful.

Mary didn’t speak immediately. Mary “wondered” instead of talking. Word study tells me that the word “wondered” means “pondered or considered.” She waited for an explanation. She listened.

When faced with a dilemma or a decision, the first step is to wait and listen for the words of the Lord.

She Asked a Faith-Filled Question

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1: 34)

Early in Luke 1, we find out that Zechariah was struck speechless when he asked a doubt-filled question (Luke 1:18-19), so how do we know Mary’s question was different?

First, Gabriel’s response was different. Instead of quieting her, he answered her. I love this because it’s another instance that Scripture shows that asking God questions isn’t wrong. The Psalms are filled with David’s questions and Habakkuk, the prophet, was brimming with questions that God answered.

God is big enough for our questions, but how we ask is essential. From observing many, many scenes of questioning in Scripture, I see a dividing line. When we ask questions with open hands and hearts, seeing God as the source of all good answers, He comes near. Sometimes He answers, and sometimes He doesn’t. But He honors faith-filled questions. Only when we ask with fists clenched, leveling a question as an accusation or an expression of distrust, does God reject it.

We also know that Mary asked in faith because Elizabeth exclaims over her, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her” (Luke 1:45).

Have questions and faith? Ask away! This is step two. You can trust God for His presence while you wait for answers.

She Sought Support

“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth” (Luke 1:39-40).

When we believe we’ve received the word of the Lord about a situation or decision, it’s important to confirm it in two ways:

  1. With Scripture– All truth is God’s truth, so it has to align with Scripture. If it doesn’t, then going back to listening is the next step.
  2. With wise council– If what you’ve heard lines up with Scripture, it’s still a good step to run it by a godly mentor.

I’m always curious about why Mary had to travel to reach the right support. The Bible doesn’t tell us (drat!), so we just have to trust that God guided Mary to Elizabeth. If you don’t have a godly mentor, ask God to guide you to the right person. Having several people whom I trust to confirm or redirect me has been a huge gift in my life.

She Responded to Confirmation with Praise

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant” (Luke 1: 46-48).

Once God’s work in Mary’s life is confirmed, she erupts in praise. Let’s make this our response too! It’s the last step that caps a good decision.

Listening to God is crucial as we develop:

Tender Hearts. Strong Voices.

Before we make a hard decision, process a circumstance or take a stand on an issue, we need to listen to God.

We need to listen to Him for direction, but we also need to listen so that He can hold His Word up as a mirror–to show us our blind spots…to expose vulnerable places…to straighten deception…to heal wounds and eliminate bitterness. All those tasks can be accomplished if we’ll only listen– through Scripture, through prayer, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and through asking faith-filled questions.

I’d love to hear from you about what struck you most about this series! What did you learn that you’re putting into practice as you listen to God?

signature
Leave a comment here | 2 Comments

Moving Out of Starvation to Feasting

This time of year, I’m starving–starving for margin, for face time with my people and for a renewed connection with God.

If you feel the same way, I hope my devotion today, You Were Made to Feast Not Starve”, will feed your soul. In addition, here’s a Christmas Prayer for a soul meal. (Download this free print, but make sure to keep reading below!)

Although it’s easy to starve our souls with busyness this time of year, getting quiet to listen is one way to feed our souls.

I’ve been doing a series on how to listen to God in order to cultivate a tender heart. Today’s interview is with my dear friend, Laura Lee. Settle into my home office with us to find out “How to Tap Into Power When You Listen.” Laura gives huge insights about how to listen to the Holy Spirit in your every day life.

You can click on the titles below for more insights about how to listen to God, and then make sure to join so that you don’t miss any of this conversation about how to develop Tender Hearts and Strong Voices.

How to Know for Sure that Scripture is Trustworthy

How to Know for Sure that YOU Can Find the Truth in Scripture

How to Hear God When You Pray

signature
Leave a comment here | 5 Comments

How to Hear God When You Pray

Last night was an amazing time interviewing my friends Tammy Chapman and Felecia Lucas about “How to Hear God When You Pray.”

The video today is a little longer than usual, but there’s a reason…

The content they were sharing was TOO GOOD to stop!

I literally could have sat with them all night listening to their wisdom about listening to God through Scripture and prayer. I learned so much, and I can guarantee that you’re going to glean something today too. We can learn to hear God when we pray! (Note: Don’t miss Tammy’s acronym for prayer and Felecia’s story about how God used a different kind of fast in her life to help her to hear from Him. Amazing.)

Subscribers, click here to watch the video on the website.

If you want a link to the book Felecia mentioned and notes on Tammy’s acronym, go visit the comments from the video on my Facebook page. I’ve pinned it to the top just for you!)

signature
Leave a comment here | 4 Comments

How to Know for Sure that YOU Can Find the Truth in Scripture

Have you ever wondered…

Is Scripture completely true and can I trust it?

Do I have to go to seminary to really understand the Bible?

Are there some simple tools that I can learn to grasp truth in Scripture and apply it in my life?

The answers are definitively, yes, yes and yes!

If you missed last week’s teaching on the trustworthiness of Scripture, click here.

This week, I’m sharing some simple tools that will help you learn to study Scripture on your own in a way that empowers you to grow spiritually. Please watch the video below. (Click here to watch the video if you’re a subscriber.)

(Although this originally aired as a Facebook Live, I welcome your comments and questions here too.)

I’m so glad you’re here today continuing the series to build Tender Hearts and Strong Voices by walking through these steps together:

Listen –> Feel –> Do –> Speak

If you don’t want to miss a thing, make sure to sign up for my weekly emails by clicking here.

I’ll have some special guests next week talking about “How to Hear God When You Pray”. You can join me live on Facebook at 8:00 pm on Wednesday, November 28th.

signature
Leave a comment here | 2 Comments

How to Know for Sure that Scripture is Trustworthy

Hi, friends!

In the ongoing “Listen to God” series, I want to build the surest foundation of relying on the Bible for what’s right and true. In order to want to listen to God, we have to start with a confidence that what He says is true. The great news is that the Bible, otherwise known as Scripture or God’s Word, is absolutely true and trustworthy!

Here’s the first video in the series “How to Know for Sure that Scripture is Trustworthy.” Click here to watch on the website if you’re a subscriber.

(If you want to check out the 3-question Bible study tool I talked about in this video, click here to read and access a free downloadable PDF.)

In the upcoming weeks, I’m going to post a series of Facebook Live videos here for those of you who can’t join us live. My next Facebook Live will be Monday, November 19th at 3:30 pm ET. I’d love for you to join me for “How to Know for Sure that YOU Can Find the Truth in Scripture”! To watch live, simply click here to follow my Facebook page, and show up Monday to listen and ask any questions you have. (If you don’t see the video at first, try refreshing the page.)

I’ll have guests joining me after Thanksgiving to talk about listening to God through prayer and the Holy Spirit. I can’t wait to share some of my wise peeps with you!

signature
Leave a comment here | 2 Comments