At All Times

This morning I read Psalm 34 with fresh joy. I highlighted my favorite parts for you. Consider how good God is and how He’s always working on our behalf. I would love to memorize Psalm 34 as my June challenge.

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to blot out their name from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
    not one of them will be broken.

21 Evil will slay the wicked;
    the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
    no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

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A New Era

Ash and I keep noting that we’re in a new era of marriage. Since we had children almost immediately after getting married, we were always married with children. It was never just us. But now, with grown children in their late teens or full adulthood, it’s fun to enjoy a newlywed time we never had.

We head out to the Boalsburg Memorial Day Festival–like we always have for the last 15 years. But this year, our daughters were off on their own (at work or involved in their own projects). We had a blast as we talked to friends, supported the Scouts at their hotdog stand, and enjoyed the high school jazz band. Of course, some events our daughters insist on joining us for, like the BBQ at our neighbor’s house.

As we near the proverbial empty nest, I’m looking forward to a new era. Instead of asking what the girls want to do, we get to look at each other and ask, “What do we want to do?” We plan outings and travel, date nights, and movies that we want. It’s a new era indeed!

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Some Years for Rest

These peonies needed a year of rest after we transplanted them from another spot in the garden. I didn’t know if they would flourish, but I waited, watered, fertilized, and tended to them while they established themselves.

Year two? They thrived! Some years are for rest; some years are for glorious displays!

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Little Outings

I love little outings–those small, inexpensive trips you can enjoy each day. Little outings saved me during those long, seemingly endless days of motherhood with toddlers. Little outings helped me survive the dark Michigan winters. Little outings bring great pleasure when God calls you to live in a small, semi-rural community. Little outings!

Instead of vacations or expensive, gas-guzzling trips, think about little outings. New parks, new hikes, the coffee shop in the next town that brings in the biscotti from Pittsburgh, the movie theatre down the street with free popcorn on Tuesday nights, the arboretum currently housing all the ducklings and the gardenia, the pine tree forest perfect for picnicking, the library, the cidery up the hill. Even if it’s simple and only takes an hour, the outing can refresh the family and help organize the day.

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Evolving (and a Behind the Scenes Look at Publishing)

Yesterday I met with the wonderful website designer from Moody Publishers who will help me revamp my website when my next book (The Six Conversations) launches in the fall. I love that Live with Flair evolved into something new in 2015 when I wrote Seated with Christ. At that time, I moved from blogspot.com to wordpress.com. Now, I’ll move on to something else the designer chooses. Some of you reading now have been with me from the very, very beginning. Thank you!

Now? My website can evolve into something more practical for people wanting quick links to podcasts or radio interviews, the blog, perhaps a weekly or monthly newsletter, and my latest news. It’s time to evolve! I’m ready! It feels right!

Of course, I get nervous about the “lifestyle and branding” photoshoot the publisher wants. My lifestyle? Gardening. Cats. Loafers. Walking. I fear the lifestyle and branding photoshoot won’t be quite as inspirational as people might want. You can at least expect some fresh photos, a cleaner look, and updated content in the fall.

Stagnant living harms the soul. It’s time for some fresh flowing ideas.

And while we’re talking about some behind-the-scenes stuff from the publishing world, I’ll let you know about the buzz of activity surrounding a book launch. If a book comes out to the world in the fall, a great publishing company like Moody will assign you a publicist who handles your “press kit” for radio interviews a few months beforehand (so now!). The publicist meets with you to design a marketing plan for the media side of things. This person works alongside your marketing manager who handles social media, print, and other ways to market your book. It’s fun to then join with a creative team after writing in isolation for a year. I love this part of writing a book!

In the meantime, things like photoshoots, website design, and conversations about what the back cover will look like happen this month. And next week, I send out email reminders to people I’ve asked to endorse the book. Finding endorsements isn’t my favorite part of writing books, but it must be done.

How do I stay focused on the craft of writing without getting caught up in the business of writing? Well, I’m working on the next project–the middle grade novel. Meanwhile, I stay close to the Lord, stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and stay around godly people who help me keep focused on my calling without getting too caught up in branding or photoshoots!

 

 

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More than Watchmen

I read Psalm 130:5-6 6 and note the beautiful repetition of a certain line. We read this:

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.

Think of how watchmen on a tower wait for the morning. A watchman who keeps guard through the long night watches for the morning with sure expectation. He knows the morning is coming; it’s just a matter of time. He’s not worried about it. He’s just excited to see the first sign of light to know his hard service through the night is over. It’s not an anxious, confused, or hopeless kind of waiting. Waiting for the morning is different. It’s simply about time. It’s simply about knowing the dawn is coming.

Putting our hope in God’s word—in all the promises of His peace, protection, and provision—places us in a position of hopeful expectation. We’re tired and overwhelmed. We’re in the dark. But the dawn is coming.

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Another

Today I dropped my youngest daughter off to school and noticed the increased police presence. More precautions. More safety measures. I hated what the change meant: another school shooting somewhere in the nation. And this means another email from the superintendent. Another conversation about staying alert at school and reporting any suspicious activity. Another day where it feels both horrifying and somehow numbing to hear about a school shooting.

It’s heartbreaking to think of these precious families destroyed. I think of the 19 little children and two teachers now.

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The Crushing that Saves You

Whenever the lilacs bloom, I remember one of my all time favorite Live with Flair posts from  from May 2014. I’ve reproduced an excerpt here for you to consider:

So You’d Get What You Really Needed: Another Message About Suffering

I discover that the lilac stem is so tough and so thick that it’s nearly impossible for those stems to draw up their life-sustaining nutrients in a vase. They wilt and expire within one day.

I learn that you must crush and split the stems to soften them and provide many points of entry for the lilacs to suck up all the water.

I’m standing in my kitchen, damaging those stems–literally breaking them open with a knife–(in order to save them!), and I realize the tender hand of God in my own heart that crushes in order to provide a special and rapid access to what I really need: Him, the Living Water.

The tough, thick me softens so I can get what I’ve wanted and needed all along. This was the crushing and cutting that saved me.

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Less Talking. More Praying.

Last night I attended our church’s Sunday nightprayer service. What a sweet time to stay still and silent before the Lord and pray! Lately, more and more, I’ve wanted to enjoy more times of stillness and silence. Perhaps it’s the nature of getting older. Perhaps it’s a deep burden for people. Perhaps it’s because I sense the Lord moving in new ways in our community here. People are hungry for God and soul-sick. They are full of longing and hopelessness. Now more than ever, they realize the homesickness they have felt all their lives is for their heart’s true home in Jesus.

So I pray for God to reveal Himself to us and that we would find our home in Him. Prayer helps cut through the cultural lies we’re all believing about what makes life abundant. As I was praying last night, I wrote in my journal this statement regarding the longing I see in people and how we chase what we think we want:

If you get all you thought you wanted, but Jesus is not with you, it’s not really what you want. If you get nothing you thought you wanted, but you have Jesus, you have what you really want. 

Do not fear! If you have Jesus, you have everything. And the work of the day is stillness and silence. This will lead to worship and a sense of taking refuge in God. This is the path to peace and joy.

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A Moment from Galatians: Set Apart and Called

This morning, I read Galatians 1 and stayed for a while with verses 15-16. I notice, of course, the verbs. Notice how Paul understands his life: “But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles. . .” 

Paul sees himself as set apart from birth; his whole life is by God’s design from the very beginning. Paul also understands God called him; nothing Paul did earned this or brought it about. It was solely by the grace of God. Finally, Paul sees that his life is about showcasing Jesus. 

I asked God to show me more what it would look like when you meet a person who reveals Christ. When God “reveal[s]” his Son” in Paul, I think of a few things. Paul’s life demonstrates supernatural power that reveals Christ. Paul also understands suffering differently. His life reveals the secret of contentment in any situation. What else? What would a life that reveals Christ look like? I think of the patience and love of Jesus. I think of His willingness to endure shame. I think of the particular attention He gave children and outcasts. I’m thinking more about more about how God may reveal Christ in us even this very day.

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