Monday, January 31, 2022

Totally Devoted


My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me."  And my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming." ~Psalm 27:8

Has spending more time with the Lord been a top priority for you in 2022?  I know it has been for me, with everything that has transpired as of late.  And that is why I'm thrilled to present my friend, Deb Wolf's, 52- Week Devotional Journal for Women with all of you here today.  (Sorry, guys, but do read on - this might be the perfect gift for your wife or girlfriend!)

Writing in a journal used to be something in which I would engage on a regular basis.  The reflection and hindsight provided by such an activity seemed invaluable.  Yet, somewhere along the way, my interest wanes, and the journals find themselves tucked away in a dark corner of a forgotten cupboard, gathering dust.

This year, everything has changed - for the better - when it comes to my need for honest assessment and accountability.  And Deb's book provides the perfect platform for just such introspection and attentiveness when it comes to the study of God's Word.

I will let the descriptions on the book jacket do the talking for me here:

No matter what a busy week may throw your way, God is with you in every moment.  Allow yourself to take a breath (there's my word!) and find peace in Him with the 52-Week Devotional Journal for Women, a weekly devotional with scripture passages, unique insights, and stirring prompts . . . With no set start date, you can explore each week's short prompts at your own pace over the course of a year . . . Elegant lined pages give you space to write down your thoughts, and the compact format lets you take this devotional when you're on the go.

What a convenient and wonderful way to make connecting with God each week meaningful and satisfying for the soul!  I'm on Week 3, and honestly, ladies, these prompts are so good, I'm tempted to move on quickly rather than to simply savor the moment.

But I will resist!  Because the last thing any of us needs to do when it comes to spending time in God's presence is to hurry about it as if it's just another item to check off our to-do list.

I'm certain that if you order Deb's book, you will be delighted, refreshed and totally devoted as I have been.  And while you're at it, please visit her inspirational blog, Counting My Blessings, and subscribe.  Deb's insights and inspirations are just waiting to fill you with hope and peace five days a week.

About the Author:

Deb Wolf is a speaker, writer, and teacher with a degree in education.  A blogger for more than 12 years, she currently writes at Counting My Blessings where she encourages her readers to focus on what God is doing at the intersection of faith and life.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Breathe - Part Three - Word of the Year


Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.  Praise the Lord! ~Psalm 150:6

I never choose a word for the year.  It chooses me.  So, it should come as no surprise to me or anyone else visiting regularly here, considering the shaky start this New Year has wrought, that my word for 2022 is "Breathe."

Simple.  Basic.  Involuntary.  Necessary.

Source of life itself.

Focusing on my breathing, instead of the distractions all around me, naturally slows me down.  No longer do I feel compelled to rush through daily activities.

Patience becomes a constant companion, one who, too often in the past, flitted about and teased me with her virtual allure.  I'm looking her in the eyes.  She is attainable, real, available.  And I realize that I'm the one who has always kept her at an arm's length away.

I'm no longer going through the motions of the day, but relishing and savoring each moment.  I'm reading my daily Bible verses and reflections with purpose, intent on absorbing God's Word, journaling my thoughts and impressions.

My handwriting, once a sprawling crawl, has morphed into neatly printed letters, drawn out with care.  I'm reading books with a fresh, untainted eye; it's no longer about how many I read in a year, it's about the why and what and who and how.  

Sketching pencils are ordered from Amazon.

I haven't drawn anything meaningful since young adulthood, yet in this new season of slowness and steady rhythm, I long to try my hand at a skill God grants me years ago; one I allow to fall by the wayside in the wake of busyness and obligations.

As my strength returns, the thought of breaking out my guitar once more, filling my lungs with the joyful breath of song, flutters in my mind like a flock of birds who discover a full and overflowing feeder on an inclement winter day.

So many possibilities . . . So many changes for the better . . .

Such an about-face, one that leaves me leaning into the Lord like never before.

Yes, I will breathe.

I will praise the Lord with every breath.

And I will live to rejoice in Him.


Monday, January 24, 2022

Breathe - Part Two


Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

When I am diagnosed with pneumonia, confirmed by a chest scan and not complicated by any Covid infection, the doctors patently assume that the standard concoction of antibiotics will fit the bill for treatment.  But after two days, with my condition not worsening but not improving, they are more than a bit perplexed.  What can possibly be the root cause for this nemesis?

One prescient physician decides to change up the antibiotic cocktail completely, adding steroids to the mix; he gets no argument from his colleagues.  And of course, I'm all for anything that works to zap the sickness and allow me to wean down from the extravagant amount of oxygen I'm receiving.

Fortunately, for all involved, this new approach wends its slow, deliberate way toward a semblance of improvement on my part.  In the meantime, the "mystery pneumonia" has other physicians stymied, frustrated and over-the-top curious about its origin and modus operandi.

Several respiratory doctors and pulmonologists want to perform what's known as a bronchoscopy, where the patient is placed into twilight and a tube is inserted through the mouth and into the lungs to retrieve tissue samples for further examination.  To give them credit, they are upfront with the possible dangers such a procedure can entail, including the collapse of the lungs and the need for a ventilator.  I don't think I need to elaborate here for you to understand that this is NOT something I even remotely think is in my best, long-term interest.

Luckily, during the days this option continues to be discussed, my oxygen remains at too high a level to even contemplate such a procedure.  No doubt, God is hard at work on my behalf, protecting me from the unnecessary, so He can perform the extraordinary.

Though my improvements seem miniscule at first, the changes are manifesting in surprisingly tangible, visible signs.  Nurses and/or doctors who haven't seen me in two days or more do a double take when entering my room.  My eyes are brighter, my need for oxygen is slowly but surely tapering off, my complexion awakens from a waxen pallor to a healthy glow.  The transformation leaves many scratching their heads in wonder and disbelief.  Was this supposed to happen?  Wasn't she on her third strike?

And just like that, God gives me my chance to witness unabashedly, to believers and unbelievers alike, determined to share with these caring and curious folks what I know to be true about the countless prayers bombarding me continuously in this hospital bed.  I speak confidently, admitting that I have no way of counting all the prayers pouring over me, but I feel them.  I feel God's presence through them.  

He is healing me, in His way and in His time.  I have no doubt I will walk out of here, well and whole.  Leave the bronchoscopy be, and let God work His wonders!

Some readily agree about prayer.  Some politely defer.  Some admit they don't know how it works, but can't deny the improvement they see in me.  There is a remarkable openness on the part of most listeners; God is opening windows where doors have been tightly shut.

Oh, how I hope that my time in the hospital not only procures a once-in-a-lifetime miracle for me, but also prepares the soil of these precious hearts to receive and accept God's invitation to salvation!

Within days of my discharge, I begin to hear thanks from the nurses, for being gracious to them, and offering encouragement when so many patients offer nothing but complaints.  They praise my positive attitude, telling me its rubbed off on them, and actually tell me I will be missed, for all the right reasons.

Truthfully?  I will miss these beautiful children of God, too.  But I will continue to keep them in my prayers, to rejoice over them, and give thanks for all the care and love they lavished upon me during my stay.

May they know, if they don't already, the peace of God which passes all understanding.

And may we all, each and every one of us, know that same peace.


Thursday, January 20, 2022

Breathe - Part One


The breath of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. ~Job 33:4

I'm breathing in your grace, and breathing out your praise . . . ~Matt Redmon, Your Grace Finds Me

Breathe.  In and out.  Day in and day out.

An instinctive activity upon which we rarely ruminate or take pause to consider our consequential fragility if this most mundane of functions were to suddenly cease.

Lying helpless in a hospital bed, oxygen pumping into my pneumonia-riddled lungs at a whopping 10 liters, not even comprehending how thinly my life thread hangs in the balance, I breathe.

Labored, I breathe.

Fear creeping, lurking in the dark recesses of what remains of a mind ravaged by illness, threatens to overwhelm me.

But God.

Do you want a second chance?  I'm giving you one.  Will you decide to take it?  It is a gift from Me, but the acceptance is yours.  It will cost you who you were, but you will have my freedom.  My promise.  My grace.  Decide.

No further explanation from the Lord is necessary.  I have been a smoker for years, not ever having confessed to such here.  I have always had an excuse for my bad habit, in spite of my salvation; never smoking in public, always limiting lengthy interactions with others outside my private sphere, chaining myself to a negative lifestyle that does nothing to enhance my life or the lives of those around me.

Now, I've contracted a renegade form of pneumonia that will be, after lengthy and convoluted diagnosis by the doctors, as one caused by an allergic reaction.  I think all of you easily reach the same conclusion as I do.

Smoking is no more!  Not ever, ever again.

God's breath, His life, His freedom - those become the overwhelming desires of my heart!

From that very moment I surrender to God's grace.

I breathe . . . Aware.  Thankful.  Blessed.

I breathe.

Never again to take such a wondrous gift for granted.

And as I do, my husband, Danny, rallies all my blogging buddies, his friends, our church; and these beloved children of God summon their friends, their churches, their acquaintances, and the myriad prayers rise like a sweet and fragrant, continuous petition into God's listening presence.

Without those prayers?  I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my healing, though God would have eventually seen to it, could never happen as quickly and decisively as it did.

I realize, in all humility, that I have been the integral part of a miracle.


I will continue to detail my journey of healing in subsequent blogs.  I do hope you will join me, and leave your thoughts and reflections in the section provided.

And if you were one of my faithful and tireless prayer warriors, I cannot begin to thank you enough!  Know you and yours are in my prayers of gratitude.

The prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective. ~James 5:16


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