The Questions – guest blog by Rita Appel

Fat, lazy, stupid, slob

Useless, unwanted, burden

Never amount to anything

For a lifetime

I listened to these words

Made them mine

Heard them

Over and over in my mind

Making them real

rita poem

Until now

I can’t tell where they end

And my thoughts begin

Afraid to believe

Not daring to hope, unable to trust

Fearful and afraid

Where do I go?

Who can I trust, who do I know?

Who will love me for me?

My child.

Wait, what did you call me?

My child, I will love you for you.

Why, what must I do?

I have loved you from the beginning of time.

There must be a catch.

What do I need to do?

Nothing.  I created you and love you as you are.

What?! With all these imperfections?

rita poem 2

Why? Why me?

I chose you because of who you are.

What?! Is this a bad joke?

But why me?

Aren’t there others better suited for you

And your needs than me?

No, I want you

Because through me all things are possible

When you lean on me.

When you trust me

You can do the impossible

Through me

Most importantly

Remember, my child, I am ALWAYS there

Because I love you

I love you

You are my child and always will be

THANK YOU!

Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Thank you Rita for this beautiful poem! I know we all wrestle with insecurities. It’s so tough! I pray Rita’s poem has been a blessing and encouragement to you.

How has God helped you with your scars? Share with us so we can be encouraged.

From My Playlist – Take Him to the Place

She lifted her prized orchid and smiled. It had taken first place in this year’s contest. The periwinkle blue bloom captivated everyone’s attention.

The phone rang causing her to jump. The orchid slipped from her fingers and crashed to the hardwood floor. The pot shattered leaving the roots exposed.

She gasped. Questions ran through her mind as she raced to get a new pot. Could she save it? Would re-potting help it survive?

The next day she glanced at the drooping orchid. So far the withered flower hadn’t responded to the treatment she tried. Time to leave it alone and see what happens.

A week later she snuck a peek and yelled. The blue orchid smiled back. She pumped her fist. Yes!

New life had begun.

Have your dreams been shattered? You’ve put your all into something only to have it fall apart. Again. Or perhaps, you’re watching someone going through this right now.

We’ve all been there at one point or another.

How do we react? How do we bring ourselves out of the depths of this pit?

I would hazard a guess to say that sometimes we like to stay in it and have a pity party. Sounds harsh, I know. However, it’s true. I’m including myself in this scenario.

Is this wrong?

I don’t believe it is. What? Don’t stop reading. Stay with me.

dead thingsIt’s part of the process. We’ve just had our dreams, hearts, and plans for the future shattered. Or perhaps we’ve lost a loved one. We need to allow ourselves time to grieve. If we don’t, we’ll stay stuck in the pit for a long time and become bitter. Then no one will want to be around us. We need to move on after we’ve grieved. I’m not saying we shouldn’t forget, but we need to forgive, accept the circumstance, and then move on. This is not easy.

The hard part is knowing when and how to climb out. 

We need to take our hurt to the Place where all things are healed. To the only One who can give us rest and peace.

This song speaks truth. This line says it all:

“Watch dead things live again
for one touch of His grace
And its all washed away.” 

WOW. One touch can do it all.

How about we reach out and fall into the Healer’s embrace? It doesn’t matter where we’ve been or what we’ve gone through.

We will find total serenity in His arms.

Have you been stuck in the pit? How did you climb out? 

Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.

Take Him to the Place (by Aaron and Amanda Crabb)

A friend sent me this song and I fell in love with it. The words are powerful. Thanks, Carm!

Do You Remember When…

Do you remember when…you rode your first bike?

Do you remember when…you played hide and seek?

Do you remember when…you went to camp and had a ball with other kids your age?summer fun

The list could go on and on, couldn’t it? I remember our family used to love to go camping (we still do!). Mom and Dad would pack up our soft top trailer, us kids, and head out with our friends, the Smith’s. We traveled many kilometers and had SO much fun! It brings a smile to my face.

Where have the years gone? Do you ever wish you could go back in time and relive some of those amazing memories? I do!

Murray and Susan, do you remember when…we played for hours in our tree-house on Harrison Mountain? What joyous times those were (even if Murray picked on me)! :D

Do you remember when…

You fill in the blank.

 

Share your favorite childhood memory. I would love to hear from you!

 

From My Playlist – I See Grace

A woman with matted hair and a tattered coat shuffled up the aisle and onto the platform to join the others gathered on stage. The pastor had called those who wanted to share their cardboard testimonies to the front. He only expected a few, but twenty stood in a row with shoulders pulled back and heads held high, ready to share how God had worked in their lives.

The pastor smiled. “Let’s begin.”

Grace Greater Than Our Sin filled the sanctuary. The congregation sat in silence as the individuals on stage raised their cards.

A young woman’s card read, “Cancer.” She turned it around. “Healed.” The next one said, “Alcoholic” then “Delivered.” “Adultery” then “Forgiven.”

One by one the simple words displayed God’s grace. The last woman on stage stood on her tippy toes to lift hers higher than the rest. “Homeless.”

She whipped her card around and smiled with a toothless grin.

“Shelter.” She pumped her fist in the air and yelled, “Yes!”

The congregation jumped to their feet and clapped as the pastor sang the final verse.

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace

Have you ever sat in silence in your church and looked around at those gathered? What did you see?

All kinds of people with struggles—rich, poor, young, old. Each with a different story.

But each with one thing in common.

i see grace

Grace.

We all deal with trials differently. Some try to hide behind the crisp pages of their Bible, pretending everything is okay when it isn’t. They look like they have it all together with their beautiful clothes, wide smiles, and eloquent words. Why do we create a façade?

Others display their struggles for all to see like a peacock spreading its beautiful feathers. They want others to hurt like they do.

Which category do we fall into? Do we look at each other and judge the cover but forget to open the book and dig deeper?

We’ve all had trials, but through them God gives us grace.

This song by Jim Brady captures it beautifully. He tells of a YouTube video where a church is displaying their cardboard testimonies. Each has a struggle, but each delivered by God’s grace.

I love these lines of this powerful song.

 

 There are those in this life who’ve been dealt a poor hand

They’ve overcome and by God’s strength they stand

Those who have come through unbearable loss

Not defined by the past but defined by the cross.

When we look at the congregation around us, do we only see pain and sorrow? If we dug deeper, what would we see?

Grace.

John 1:16 (NIV)

Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.

Watch this video of those sharing their cardboard testimonies. What would your card read? Share in the comments.

I See Grace (by Jim Brady, Barry Weeks, Tony Wood)

Listen to these powerful words.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, please feel free to pass it along. Thank you!

From My Playlist – Dream For You

She held her breath as she double-clicked on the email. Would this be the one?

Words popped onto her screen.

Thank you for submitting your manuscript. Unfortunately, it’s not a fit for our publishing company. A number of factors…

She pounded the desk. Tears formed and her shoulders slumped.

Was she kidding herself? Perhaps it was time to give up on her dream. She just wasn’t good enough.

Was she?

Do you dream? I’m not referring to the images while you sleep, but dreams of aspiration. Something you want to accomplish in your lifetime.

I know you do. We all do.

The real question is…what are we going to do about it?

Many of us shy away from our dreams. Why do you think that is? Could it be because we’re too scared to step out of our comfort zone to make it happen? We don’t feel we’re good enough? We don’t think God will allow it?

Guess what?

He dreams for us.

He’s right beside us cheering us on, but sometimes we fail to see Him working for us. When things don’t pan out and we get rejected, we call it quits. We think it wasn’t meant to be. And yes, that could be the case, but do we give up too easily? Maybe the timing isn’t right. Maybe it’s our attitude that needs adjusting.

Maybe God has something bigger and better in store for us.

After all—He knows the full picture. We can only see the right here and now.

When we trust and let Him dream for us, He takes us farther than we ever dreamed possible.

 dreams 2

When I heard the song Dream for You by Casting Crowns, it made me chuckle. The first verse talks about David and his dream of becoming a big time shepherd. I love the line, “You’re the one who’s going to face him toe-to-toe, wipe that grin off his face.” Of course this refers to Goliath. I can picture that Cheshire cat grin disappearing from the giant’s face when the tiny rock hit his forehead.

Think about this. How can we even start to work on our dreams if we don’t face the obstacles in front of us toe-to-toe? We need to get those out of the way, give them over to God, and let it happen.

The second verse of this song talks about Mary. Like every young woman, she had big dreams of getting married and having a family. However, “even before time began” God had a “picture perfect plan.” He did for Mary and He does for us.

There have been numerous times I’ve felt like giving up on my dream of getting my book published. Defeat and discouragement took me on a roller coaster ride. Lies filled my mind. I’m not good enough. No one likes my writing. God isn’t using my gift. Do I even have one?

And then He would prove me wrong by sending words of encouragement my way. Why did I ever doubt Him?

What about you? Have you given up on your dreams?

God is stronger than us and will take us further than we ever thought possible. We need to give our dreams over to Him—he’s the ultimate dream maker.

When we do we will realize that…

There’s a difference between giving up and letting go.

When we surrender to Him, He will take us places.

How about we let Him dream for us?

What is your dream? Have you given up? Tell us your story.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Dream for You (Mark Hall, Matthew West)

Feel free to tap your toe on this one! Better yet, get up and dance—and start dreaming!

From My Playlist – Just Be Held

Janice held her five-year old daughter and stepped into the pool. The warmth of the water wrapped around her body like a cozy blanket. She walked in up to her waist and stopped, staying close to the side. “This looks a great spot to learn to swim. What do you think?”

Cindy gasped and stiffened. “No!”

“It’s okay, honey. I’ve got you.” Janice turned Cindy onto her stomach and eased her into the water.

Cindy screamed, arms flailing. She slipped from Janice’s hold.

Janice gripped her tighter. “Honey, you have to be still.”

Cindy grabbed the side of the pool, kicking hard.

“Let go and just let me hold you.”

“No!”

“Stop fighting it. I’ve got you.”

Cindy released her death grip from the edge. She giggled as Janice led her in circles around the pool.

“See, I told you it would be fun. You have to trust me.” 

What is the most frightening experience you’ve encountered? What about the toughest situation you’ve had to deal with? How did you react?

I’ve been through some tough ones too. Betrayal. Divorce. Health issues. However, the hardest one was when we found out our precious mother had an inoperable brain tumor.

I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. I questioned God. “Why did You allow this? I love her too much to let her go.” Do you know what I heard back from Him?

I love her more and want her home with Me.

Like the little girl in the above story, I kicked and screamed, holding on tight. I didn’t want to let go. I shook my fist at God. There’s no way He could love her more. I needed her here with me.

Slowly, God moved in my life. He used Mom to teach me that there’s joy in the thick of pain and I needed to look for the blessings. Guess what?

They were there. I just had to be still and let go.

Was it tough? You bet.

I wanted to control the situation. I had to be strong to prove I was okay. I didn’t want to surrender.

Can you relate?

storm

We can’t always be the strong ones. We need to relinquish control. We will never know all of the reasons why storms travel through our lives, but we need to stop fighting, trust Him, and let go.

When we do we will see Him turn the ashes of our pain into something beautiful.

Let’s lift our eyes to our Savior, stop holding on, and fall into His enormous arms.

And just be held.

Psalm 91:1-2 (NIV)

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

What is the toughest trial you’ve had to go through? Did you find it hard to rest and just be held? Share your thoughts with us. 

P.S. I hope you enjoy this new series on songs called From My Playlist. I will share songs with you from time-to-time. I believe music can enrich our lives by comforting us. It can make us laugh, cry, and yes, even dance! If there’s a song you would like to me to blog about, please share it in the comments.

Just Be Held (written by Bernie Herms, Mark Hall, Matthew West)

When I first heard this song by Casting Crowns (from their new CD Thrive), it grabbed ahold of me and wouldn’t let go. I knew I had to share it! Listen to the words.

Haunting Past

Shadows of the Past by Patricia Bradley

(Keep reading for contest details on how you could win this book!)

Do you believe the past can haunt you? To the point where it affects your every day decisions? Could you let go of the past, so you could have a future?

In Shadows of the Past, Taylor Martin is plagued with the unanswered question of why her father left his family twenty years ago. She believes it was her fault. Are her dreams of clowns connected to the mystery? Plus, her job as a criminal profiler puts her in constant danger. Who is stalking her and why?

shadows

Taylor must put this behind her before it ruins another relationship. Determined to figure out what happened to her father, she returns to her hometown of Logan Point. She is horrified to discover she can’t hide from her stalker.

Mystery writer, Nick Sinclair, is trying to put his wife’s death behind him. His brother—Nick’s only remaining family—is being accused of stalking Taylor. Nick follows Taylor to Logan Point to prove the criminal profiler wrong. There’s no way his gentle brother could be guilty. Or is he?

Nick and Taylor’s growing attraction for each other is hard to ignore even when they are thrown into a mystery that puts their lives in danger. Can they both come to grips with their past to have a future? I’m not going to tell you…read the book! :D

This is Patricia Bradley’s debut novel. It is well written with believable characters. I fell in love with both Taylor and Nick. This page-turner kept me in its clutches to the end. My only negative comment is that I guessed the antagonist too quickly. However, that didn’t stop me from reading to the end to see if I was right!

If you like a romantic suspense, you will enjoy Shadows of the Past. I’m anxious to find out where Mrs. Bradley will take us in A Promise to Protect, book #2 of the Logan Point series.

Leave the past behind and turn the page to discover the future!

Why do we hold onto past baggage? What are your thoughts?

Contest!!

I would like to give away my copy of Shadows of the Past. The contest rules are simple—leave a comment on my blog and you will be entered. Bonus entry– if you leave a comment AND share this post on Facebook you will get two entries (tag me on Facebook or let me know in the comments). Contest closes Saturday, March 8th at midnight. Enter now! (Open to residents of the USA and Canada only.)

**Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.**