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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

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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

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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

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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

Read Full Post »

 

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

Read Full Post »

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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I close my eyes, allowing its power to wash over me. Loose particles of sand dance up from the shoreline, pelting my feet where I’ve rolled the cuffs of my jeans to ankle height and the waves, placid earlier this morning, protest loudly.

God’s presence is palpable to me; His magnificence tangible–and the taste of my tears mingles with the briny sea. Releasing a sigh, I take in the vastness of the ocean and wonder if I’ll ever move beyond the profound loneliness. The sense of brokenness. The loss.

Planting myself on an abandoned stretch of sand, I gaze across the miles of steel grey. Even the ocean reflects my emotions today.

Lord, I feel so lost. Please help me.

As if in response, the wind batters against my frame and I breathe in the scents of the ocean. Absorb the rush of waves and the call of the terns. I watch as tiny sandpipers scurry on spindly legs dip their beaks beneath the crust of packed sand near the water’s edge in search of dinner.

I know God hears me.

While the answers to my simple prayer involved a slow unfolding of healing, I know many others struggle in the same way. I wonder what lonely place you have found yourself visiting today. Have you, too, been bruised and worn down? Have you been abandoned by someone you love? Are you asking God to meet you in your loss?

Even in the loneliest of places, He resurrects hope.

Ezekiel, one of God’s prophets, knew about isolation and grief. Heartache and pain. He’d suffered the death of wife, “the desire of [his] eyes” (Ezekiel 25: 15 NKJV) and been taken captive by the Babylonians. Not only was he grieving the loss of his beloved, but Ezekiel was enslaved in a foreign country.

No family. No freedom. No future.

But God…

The Wind of Heaven

Opening Ezekiel’s eyes to an amazing vision, the Lord provided His servant the hope for which he longed. He showed Ezekiel a valley filled with brittle bones and said,

“Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.” ’ ”

Ezekiel complied and the bones, once disconnected, were joined together and cloaked by flesh. Then God used some interesting words in His next command to Ezekiel,

“Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” (Ezekiel 37:9)

The word used for breath in these verses is haruah, which means wind of heaven or spirit.  The Spirit of God is the enabler of all life. He was able to reconstruct a valley of bones into an army of men and resurrect the martyred Messiah as victorious King.

When we feel as though, “our hope is lost” (Ezekiel 37:11), we can call on the Spirit who resurrects hope and life-even in the valley of dry bones.

Haruah God,

You are the One who breathes life into my spirit. I know you see my heart; you know my thoughts.

My tears pour out before you until I feel as though I’ve wept the last of them.

Hope is wrenched from my heart and I feel adrift in my loneliness.

I don’t know where to turn or which steps to take, but I trust you.

When you created man, you brought life from nothingness.

When you raised Christ from the dead, you broke the power of sin in my life.

Today, will you quicken hope inside of me?

I believe, Lord, “help me in my unbelief”. (Mark 9:24)

Amen

Peace and grace,

Tammy

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   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

 

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This week, a friend has been in crisis. She is struggling to hold on to hope and my heart is hurting for her. I’ve walked her path.

You may be in a similar place–wondering how you’ll manage to make it one more step. Feeling as  though you’re dragging a weight behind you and certain you’ll never see the horizon. Depression has a way of dogging our steps and anxiety steals hope.

Some may be struggling with self-hatred, self-harm, or even thoughts of suicide. If you are, reach out to a counselor for help or dial the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.

While feelings may overwhelm, God is able to provide the strength you need. He will never leave or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)

 

The Cross You Bear

When you’re deep in the valley⠀
and too tired to fight⠀
call out to Jesus,⠀
He’ll be your guide.⠀

The arrows and spears,⠀
the lies that surround?⠀
He’ll guard and protect,⠀
His love will abound.⠀

Don’t give heed ⠀
to whispers of fear ⠀
or listen to thoughts ⠀
like ‘End the pain, dear.’⠀

These are the prompts⠀
from the enemy of life.⠀
He is the spirit ⠀
of hatred and strife.⠀

Listen, instead, to the words of the Father.⠀
“I am your Hope.⠀
Trust me, my daughter.⠀

I took the lashings,⠀
I know your pain.⠀
Let the truth of my love⠀
Cleanse your wounds like the rain.⠀

This path isn’t easy,⠀
I see the cross that you bear.⠀
Let’s walk together,⠀
Your burdens I’ll share.”

Peace and grace,

Tammy

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   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

Read Full Post »

The soil, still wearing winter’s crust, almost taunts the farmer–daring him to unleash the toothed blade.

Greeting the day before the moon is veiled beyond earth’s ridge, the man drops the tool behind his machine and tills narrow ditches in a quilt-like pattern–overturning dead, useless roots. The untouched soil lifts its face toward the sun, revealing the beauty of burnt sienna enriched by a year of rest.

He releases the promise of a new crop to nestle among the folds of freshly turned ground; miniature capsules of gold contained until nature beckons life from within.

These are the fallow crops dotting the rugged terrain of the Montana prairie. Cared for and tended, they will yield shimmering crops of wheat. But those who refuse to allow the land a season of Sabbath see a diminished return season by season. The ground, stripped of its nutrients, fails to produce in abundance.

Others allow wild grasses to infest their fields. Only distinguished from wheat at maturity, rye mimics the favored crop of the eastern plains. Its stalk bends playfully in the hot, western wind as if jeering at passersby. Who will bend low enough to pluck me from my roots?

But there is no other way to remove the weed before its imposter seedlings spill from their casings and contaminate next year’s yield. The farmer must grasp the plant at its base; his fingers soiled by labor.

In the same way, the problems and distractions of this world can easily choke out our own spiritual growth.

When I forget to rest in Him, my spirit is as dry and dusty as over-farmed acreage. I thirst but there is no relief and the high winds that race across the landscape toss me around as easily as Russian thistle.

If I fail to cultivate the soil of my heart with worship and Biblical study, the unwelcome invaders of worry, fear, and anxiety mark my life. Only in allowing the Master gardener daily access to my inner self am I rid of what must remain rooted out.

Can you relate? Do you, too, need the loving hand of the winnowing Father to separate the plenty from the imperfect?

Some days, the unwelcome weeds stand tall–their presence dripping with possibility and the potential to infect my thoughts and actions. To invade the way I interact with my husband and children. To send anti-truth tendrils into the work God has for me to do.

At times I remain hard and unchanged, unwilling to invite the freshness of God’s word to penetrate my heart and foster newness within. But like a well-maintained field that is harrowed and then remains fallow for a time, the Planter remains faithful to His work.

The seeds are sown. The noxious plants removed. And slowly, meticulously I am being readied for the day of harvest.

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

Read Full Post »

Winter and books go together like praise and worship. I can’t seem to enjoy one without the other. Maybe because the world continues to reel from the pandemic, political upheaval, and unrest, I’ve longed for books that encourage and exhort me spiritually. This month’s reads have done both.

Winter and books go together like praise and worship. I can’t seem to enjoy one without the other. #bookreview #christiannonfiction Click To Tweet

Perhaps you, too, will be stretched and inspired by the books I mention in this post.

 

Abby McDonald’s book grabbed me from the first sentence. It reads, “My husband has an uncanny ability to notice people others don’t.”  Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God is a book about perspective. It’s about choosing to live from a place of eternal hope even in the midst of hard-edged life.

Tackling the challenge of trials from a Biblical standpoint, the author addresses such difficult problems as unanswered prayer and seeing the world through the legalist’s prism. Abby invites women into her own life as well as the lives of others who have struggled to see God in the dark places of struggle.

I’m new to Abby’s reading circle but I plan to stay. This book is a wonderful, timely read. You may want buy an extra (or two) to share with a friend.

Favorite quote:...everything we say, do, or achieve in this life either contributes to the temporary realm or the eternal realm.#fromthebookshelf #shiftbookreview Click To Tweet

 

Prolific author, speaker, and president of Right to the Heart Ministries, Linda Evans Shepherd has written another go-to book, Praying Through Every Emotion: Experiencing God’s Peace No Matter What. Linda’s powerful and insightful prayers are written to engage the reader across a variety of emotions including those that are celebrated–such as blessedness and joy–to the more difficult emotional responses with which we all struggle like guilt, strife, or trust. She digs even deeper by including prayers that take on the emotions of shame, suicidality, and disillusionment.

Each scripture-based prayer is adjacent to a series of Bible verses aligned to that specific heavenly appeal.

This book is for anyone who is struggling to manage the drama and trauma of 2020 and its twin sister, 2021. It would be a thoughtful gift for the grieving, fearful, or uncertain–which may include most of us this year.

This book is for anyone who is struggling to manage the drama and trauma of 2020 and its twin sister, 2021--which may include most of us this year. #LindaShepherd #booksaboutprayer Click To Tweet

Favorite quote: “When I look to You, the darkness flees and hope lights my way.”

Spiritual Intelligence: The Art of Thinking Like God stretched the way I view daily life. It forced me to consider whether or not a Christian can develop spiritual intelligence in the same way one might grow her emotional quotient or intellectual capacity.

Pastor Kris Vallotton of Bethel Church writes, “The reason we don’t tap into the wisdom of the age to come is because we settle for the wisdom of the age we live in.  Instead of doing the “reasonable thing,” you press into prayer and ask God…”

Not the typical publication on an evangelical Christian’s reading list, this book may require another read. I’ve underlined statements that stirred my heart and placed large question marks by claims or scriptural interpretations I’d like to investigate further. Spiritual Intelligence encouraged me to consider areas of my faith that I hadn’t before and to pursue those God continues to develop.

Favorite quote: “So many Christians live reactively from earth toward heaven, instead of living from heaven toward earth.”

 

I’d love to know what you have on your bookshelf right now. What are your latest recommendations? I may need to include them in my next round of reviews.

 

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

Read Full Post »

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