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The Middle: A Poem

No longer young,

I peer at the beginning

with the lens of Perspective.

Pain and suffering,

Joy and laughter

All mingle together.

 

I dream big of future days spent making a difference in the lives of hurting hearts. What are your dreams? #hopesanddreams #fridaythoughts Click To Tweet

I dream big

Of future days

Spent making a difference

In the lives of hurting hearts.

Loving little ones when once-small-children

Arrive on my doorstep.

 

They call this the Messy Middle–

When days are full

and we forget to pause.

But I don’t want to miss

the moments that make

living worthwhile.

A family meal squeezed

in late after practice.

Worship shared after the busy of one week

and the beginning of the next.

A hug as they rush off to school just

before they leave the nest empty.

This is the Middle.

 

Peace and grace,

Tammy

 

Today’s poem is based on the prompt Middle for Five Minute Friday.

 

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsMandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays  Recharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup

 

 

Why We Don’t Lose Hope in the Battle

They used to shine–his eyes. Now, red-rimmed and dull, they peer at the world from beneath a furrowed brow. The sparkle is gone and I lie awake pouring out words of supplication for this one that I love.

Help him in his weariness, Lord.

The Israelites had grown weary, too. Weary of trials. Weary of wilderness living. Weary of waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled. After all, they’d been boxed into the desert place for forty years. Forty years of prayer, worship, and hardship.

Wilderness wandering has a way of eroding hope.

Have you journeyed through the wilderness? Are you there now? Could it be that you are wondering if God will ever respond to your cries for help and deliver you to the other side of the hard place in which you’ve been living?

Oftentimes, the edge of the wilderness is our testing ground. #hopeinthewilderness #heisourhope Click To Tweet

Friend, let me encourage you. Not only is God with you in the wilderness, but He exhorts us not to give up hope as we battle our way to the other side. Oftentimes, the edge of the wilderness is our testing ground. It is that figurative place in our faith where we press through the weariness to the promises of God knowing that He is trustworthy. That He is with us. That He will never leave us or forsake us.

What Does the Bible Say About Not Being Afraid?

Just before God’s people stepped out of the wasteland and into their inheritance, God exhorted them with these words:

When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army.  He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” (Deuteronomy 20:2-4)

Did you notice the first statement? Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. These words weren’t intended to declare the obvious. Instead, these were a rallying cry. A proclamation emboldening God’s people to hold the line.

While we may not be standing knee to knee against our foes, you and I will face enemies. They might be called by names like Mental Illness, Addiction, Unfaithfulness, or Disease. Others go by titles such as Fear, Financial Distress, or Loss of a Loved One.

These enemies rise large on the horizon like giants inhabiting the Promised Land, but like the Israelites we are called to stand fast. #standfast #giantsinthePromisedLand Click To Tweet

These enemies rise large on the horizon like giants inhabiting the Promised Land, but like the Israelites we are called to stand fast. To continue regardless of the circumstances. To put on hope and cast of fear.

Why? Because the God of all creation is fighting on our behalf and He has already ensured us a victory. A holy victory that was established in eternity past.

 

How Does the Promise of Victory Keep Us From Losing Hope?

Each day his back bends in prayer before the sun rises. I hear the muffled sighs from the other room. But today, I notice something different as we exchange the customary morning greeting–the smile reaches his eyes.

The apostle Paul understood the struggle to persevere. He experienced imprisonment, stoning, and shipwrecks. None of these overcame his faith.

Romans 8:35 and 37 read,

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (NIV)

More than conquerors. In the Greek, this phrase means “over-victorious”. You and I are already “over-victorious” because our true and lasting joy is embodied in Christ.

Until we reach the other side of heaven, we can live with hope because no matter the battles we face, He is our inheritance Click To Tweet.

If you’ve grown weary of your skirmishes with the enemy, remember He is your battle partner. You aren’t in this alone.

Scripture for Reflection

  • “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:35-37 NIV)
  • “Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.” (Psalm 130:7 NKJV)

Action Step

For the next seven days, recite Romans 8:35-37 but replace the pronouns “us” and “we” with your name.

 

Peace and grace,

Tammy

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsMandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup

As a woman with two older teens and a twenty-something ready to launch, Empty Nest, Full Life: Discovering God’s Best for Your Next is, for me, a timely read packed with insight by author, Jill Savage.

Divided into two sections, the mother of five tackles the how-to’s of both letting-go and leaning-into. Letting go of traditions, expectations, and idols and instead embracing one’s new mission in a fresh season.

With wit and humor, Ms. Savage shares stories that encourage and inspire mothers to look to the past with thankfulness and toward the future with hope. This is a great book for the woman with an empty nest or for the one preparing herself in advance.

Favorite quote: I want my identity to be determined by You and only You. Today I’m grabbing Your hand that’s reaching out to me.

 

 

Growing Slow: Lessons on Un-Hurrying Your Heart from an Accidental Farm Girl

Growing Slow: Lessons on Un-hurrying Your Heart From an Accidental Farm Girl is the sort of book I haven’t been able to put down. With candor and honesty, Jennifer Dukes Lee challenges the idea that all of life must be “treated like an emergency” and invites the reader to settle into the people and places to which she is called in the now.

Drawing on her life as a farmer’s wife, Ms. Lee explores the importance of growing into the person God designed each of us to become–like a seed sown in a field slowing ripening that slowly develops into its fullness.

Whether you’re a former farm-girl like me or someone longing for roots and a settledness in your spirit, this book is certain to encourage your faith.

Favorite quote: You can get so rushed chasing a certain kind of remarkable life that you miss the fact that you’re already standing inside the one God gave you.

 

Flooded: The 5 Best Decisions to Make When Life Is Hard and Doubt Is Rising

“No more hard things,” author Nicki Koziarz writes in Flooded: The 5 Best Decisions to Make When Life is Hard and Doubt is Rising. 

If you’ve been grappling with hard things this book is one you will appreciate. Unpacking the familiar account of Noah, Ms. Koziarz explores doubt, unbelief, and disbelief with refreshing candor, humor, and faith.

Delving beyond pat answers to life’s difficult questions, Flooded is a book that will help you rediscover hope and remember God is with you in every circumstance. This is one book I’ll read again!

Favorite quote: I had to figure out how to get that belief-filled girl back. And I did.

 

You're More Than a Sprout

You’re More Than a Sprout is Jill Roman Lord’s newest release about a little seed who has big dreams. Unhappy with the Master’s plan, he soon discovers God has far greater plans than he’d ever imagined.
Written with Jill’s signature rhyme and paired with vibrant illustrations, the book is a great addition to any preschool or early elementary classroom, Sunday school setting, or home bookshelf.
If you’re a teacher, parent, or grandparent interested in developing a theme around Jill’s book, you can visit my post here for a variety of classroom ideas.

 

I’d love to know what books you have on your shelf right now.

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsMandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup

 

Broken bodies bend before Him

asking for sight to see.

“Jesus, won’t you heal my body?”

“Your sin is forgiven.

Come, follow Me.”

 

Broken bread between His hands

soon pierced by nails-

an offering.

“Take and eat,

consume this flesh.

I give Myself willingly.”

 

Broken body on a tree

Bloodied, bruised-

For you and me.

“I am the Way,

The Truth, the Life.

Raised, returning, conquering King.”

 

 

This poem is based on the FiveMinuteFriday prompt, Broken.

 

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsMandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup

Permission

Permission.

Since we are small,

we’re taught to ask permission

to being noticed

to be heard.

But because of Christ’s sacrifice

we no longer need permission.

We have full access to your beauty. Your glory. Your goodness. Click To Tweet

We have full access to your beauty.

Your glory.

Your goodness.

The Maker of all things notices us,

hears us,

beckons to us from on High.

Granted from eternity past,

the Trinity breathed permission over humanity

with His last agonized exhale.

Permission to enter the gates of heaven.

Permission to experience life abundant.

Permission to feel the scarred hand of Christ

wipe the last tear from your cheek as you kneel,

laying down your crown.

Permission, instead of a demand,

is now a gift.

 

This poem was written in 5 minutes based on the prompt, Permission. You can read more interpretations at Five Minute Friday

 

The scree field lay ahead, an endless sward of grey and brown sandstone. Pausing to wipe the heat of summer from my brow, I peered over my shoulder. The hikers following behind were smiling and laughing–unfazed by the weight of the pack on their backs.

But I was unaccustomed to the burden and new to hiking. Joining this group of experienced backpackers on a roundtrip fourteen-mile journey into the interior of the rugged Montana terrain was proving more challenging than I imagined. My calves were visibly cramping, and I didn’t have the appropriate gear for the trip.

Though I knew reaching the destination would require more of me than I had to give, I was determined not to complain. I had chosen this route. The rocky trail was mine to overcome.

Have you ever faced a mountain, its size and impassability overwhelming? Fractured relationships you long to repair. A cancerous growth that spreads like wildfire. Anger or bitterness that wedges inside a loved one’s heart with seeming randomness. Unexplained abuse that steals beauty from life.

Maybe you’re standing on that rocky scree field today, wondering how you’ll make it across. You feel as though other people are going to pass you by–their lives filled with joy. Where did you go wrong?

Perhaps the weight of your burden is pressing you down and the heat of the sun burns through your shirt as if it weren’t there. Even moving forward seems impossible. I understand. I’ve been there.

That day on the side of the slippery slope? Someone noticed the strain of my climb. Arriving by my side, he said, “I’ll carry your pack for a while. It won’t be a problem.”

With a wide grin, he strapped my burden on top of his and stayed by my side until we reached the summit.

Jesus is like that. He willingly carries our baggage. The cumbersome trials and challenges that weigh heavy on our hearts and minds–those nagging worries that keep us up at night; they are the burdens Christ invites us to off-load.

Friend, if you’re stuck on the scree field bearing a load to heavy for one person, won’t you give it to Him? He’s waiting to take it from you.

 

Scripture for reflection:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

 

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often linkup with the following wonderful bloggers.

 

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsMandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup

 

My arms, raised in praise early on Easter morning, now hung limp by my sides. Awash in shame, I chided myself for unkind, angry words. You can’t even make it through the most holy of days without making a mess of things.  

Bowing my head in prayer, a tear etched a trail down my cheek as I released words of confession.

Unholiness always leads to heartache. #remnantlife #livinginthedaysofezra Click To Tweet

God’s people knew the sting of heartache far too well. Finally, after years of captivity in Babylon, they’d returned to Jerusalem to rebuild its walls and temple. But Ezra the scribe discovered a truth that put the remnant living in the city at risk of angering God.

The people had failed to separate themselves from the other nations.

In our world, political correctness is king–but God wasn’t concerned about protecting feelings nor was He promoting one race above another. The Lord knew the nations surrounding Israel worshipped other gods. When the Israelites and people of other nations intermarried, God’s people always worshipped false idols.

Unholiness always leads to heartache.

The scripture reads, “But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.”

As I consider the words of the Old Testament prophet, I’m reminded of two core truths. First, we have freedom from personal sin through Christ Jesus. No matter my failings–whether they are on Resurrection Sunday or any other day, I am released to live abundantly because of Him.  If you believe in Him as your Savior, you have that assurance as well.

Those of us who cling to Him during these trying times are a modern-day remnant. Nothing can persuade us away from Him for we are slaves to Christ and through Him we have the promise of new life in the house of God.… Click To Tweet

Not only that, but those of us who cling to Him during these trying times are a modern-day remnant. Nothing can persuade us away from Him for we are slaves to Christ and through Him we have the promise of new life in the house of God. No matter the calamity around us, He is our wall of protection.

Unholiness always leads to heartache, but a heart following after Christ leads to hope.

 

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often linkup with the following wonderful bloggers.

 

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsMandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup

He inhaled with a rugged gasp

air expanding silent lungs.

Glory filled the darkened cave

as the man awakened-

God’s risen Son.

He removed linen sheets

then stood and praised the Father.

With a gentle hand,

Messiah folded the cloth

once placed on his face

then moved beyond Death’s greedy mouth

into the light of victory.

 

This poem was based on the word prompt, gentle, as part of Five Minute Friday which is located here. I also frequently link-up with the other wonderful bloggers. Have a wonderful Easter!

Peace and grace,

Tammy

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsMandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup

 

Spring arrives late in the Colorado Rockies but I recognize the early signs. Songbirds perch among the bare branches of weary-looking trees and the late snows are heavy with moisture.

I’m eager to see the brightness of the season in full-bloom. To behold its beauty.

In the same way, I’ve longed to know more of God this year. To learn about His goodness, character, and personality.

Several of the books I’ve been reading have enriched my understanding. Maybe they will pique your interest, as well.

 

The first is Jesus in Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion by Anne Graham Lotz. With a wealth of Biblical knowledge and beautifully written words, Mrs. Lotz writes about the third person of the Trinity within the context of seven specific roles. These include Helper, Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor, Counsellor, Strengthener, and Standby.

Sharing personal stories of her family life, battle with cancer, and widowhood, Anne shares how she has learned to trust and rely upon the Holy Spirit and invites readers to do the same. Humble and authentic, Mrs. Lotz reaches through the pages of the book as if she is a friend sitting with the reader at the kitchen table in deep discussion about a growing area of faith in her life.

Favorite quote: “As I reflected on what it means to know God, I thought of those in the Bible who knew Him and I decided I wanted to Him as they did.”

 

I’m not quite finished reading Letters to the Church by Francis Chan, however, it has gripped me enough that I have re-read some of the earlier chapters.

Having planted and led a mega-church, Mr. Chan reveals his heart for pastors and the community while exploring what he considers problems in the church. While I don’t agree with everything the author writes, he seems to share with honest conviction and some takeaways include the following:

  • believers must expect suffering
  • unity within the church is paramount
  • the focus on numbers within the church is misguided
  • Christians are meant to be spirit-filled or filled with the love of Christ

Favorite quote: “I am telling the Lord I don’t want to just be kind. I want the kindness only the Holy Spirit can produce.”

With Easter around the corner, it’s the perfect time to pick up a copy of Jill Roman Lord’s new book, Dream Big, My Precious One. This book is a delightful rhyming read that encourages young children to explore and imagine all of the ways they might fulfill God’s plans for their lives. Both boys and girls are highlighted throughout the illustrations as children consider a variety of exciting grown-up “dreams” including those focused on arts, sciences, faith, and more.

Children will want to read Dream Big again and again while homeschool parents and early education teachers will find it the perfect addition to a unit about Community Helpers or Careers.

A prolific children’s author, Jill Roman Lord has written another beautiful book for children. You can find more of her books here.

I am looking for a few recommendations for April. I’d love to know what you have on your bookshelf!

Peace and grace,

Tammy

P. S. I often linkup with these other wonderful bloggers.

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsMandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup

Good morning! I hope you enjoy my poem based on the word “redeem”, today’s prompt for Five Minute Friday.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sincerely,

Tammy

The Lion in the Clouds

 

The Lion in the clouds

comes with heaven’s light

His roar shaking earth

with its power and might.

 

“Look! Don’t you see him?,”

I cry to those around.

but many seem unaware

of the Lion in the clouds.

 

His golden mane is brilliant

He calls to all who hear.

Those who don’t yet know Him

will shake in sudden fear.

 

 

The message is urgent;

we must not delay.

The Redeemer is coming.

Oh, tell them today.

 

 

I often link up with the following wonderful bloggers.

Mondays   InstaEncouragements Mandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays  Recharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup, Home – Five Minute Friday

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