Thursday, December 29, 2011

What's Your Orientation?

I once went through an “astronomy phase.” Right out of college, I started collecting books about astronomy, and wanted to be able to recognize the major constellations. I bought the books that had the beautiful, full-color photographs of star systems and all kinds of galaxies. Every day God sees these wonders which are high above us. One of my favorite pastors used to say that the universe is God’s playground.

I had trouble though in learning the constellation patterns. The constellations clearly look like what they are supposed to in the books, which “connect the dots” and allow you to see the outlines of the figures. The lion is a lion, the twins are twins, and the big dipper flies close to its little dipper. My favorite one is Orion. He clearly looks like a hunter on paper, and in the night sky, it’s pretty easy to recognize him, with his dagger gleaming. But the other constellations aren’t so easy. The Big Dipper and the North Star still elude me today. To find the North Star, your orientation has to start from the Big Dipper. But if you can’t find the Big Dipper (like me), you’re out of luck.

To find what we really want in life, our orientation needs to begin from the right place. Do we want love? Do we want joy? Do we want satisfaction and peace? The pursuit of these good things begins in a relationship with God, and the attainment only comes when we keep God as the center of our lives. If our lives are oriented around Him, everything will fall into place. But when we make the center of our lives something other than God, everything will fly out of control and we will end up with chaos. When we make God our orientation, we will be able to find what will truly satisfy our hearts, and we will have a Guide who will lead us through the darkest of nights.

What things do you want to pursue in the new year? What do you hope will happen? May God be the Light that guides you and warms your heart in 2012. We could have no better orientation than God Himself. I hope you enjoy the beginning of this new year and share each day of it with the One who calls the stars by name and treasures each of His children. God bless you!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Let My Words Be Few

“Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you are on earth; therefore let your words be few” (Eccl 5:2 NKJV).

Have you ever heard the song “Let My Words Be Few” performed by Phillips, Craig, and Dean? This praise song is based on Ecclesiastes 5:2, and for the longest time I couldn’t relate to the idea of letting my words be few before God. I figured that the more words I used in my prayer times, the more God would know that I loved Him. I am a person of many words. I have written in so many spiritual journals over the years. They are stuffed in drawers in my room and in boxes in the attic. I could easily go on and on about a subject and share everything I know about it. Are you like that?

Then this year happened. Through a series of struggles and victories, I have reason to keep silent. This year has put me in awe, more than ever, of the greatness, faithfulness, and love of God. I have seen Him work in my life and in others’ lives in awe-inspiring ways. It seemed to me that everywhere I turned, God was there, with arms opened wide, truth to encourage my heart, and power to set things right when they needed to be. Now, in my quiet times with God, when I truly think about who He is and what He does on our behalf, I have no words. Just silence. And a love for Him that I hope grows every day.

The happy thing is, God delights in our praise. He inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3 KJV). We can tell Him in one sentence why we love Him, or we can spend all day thinking about who He is and thanking Him for it. Whether we pour out our hearts before Him as Psalm 62:8 encourages us to do, or just sit silent in His presence as Psalm 46:10 commands us, God delights in our praise. He desires that we walk with Him in fellowship and in prayer all day long (1 John 1:3; 1 Thess. 5:17). So I want to take the time on a regular basis to sit in His presence and just be in awe of Him, but I also want to spend the rest of my life writing about who He is, praising Him as a lifestyle, and helping the world to know the God whom we know, love, and serve. There’s no one like Him.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10 NKJV).

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas Love Letter

Dear God,

You wrote us a “love letter” when You sent us Jesus. He is the Word of God, the fullest expression of Your love.

Here’s my love letter to You. And Father, Merry Christmas!

When I look at Your world, I see all the beauty that is there. The blue skies, snow-capped mountains, and tropical islands. Morning and evening I am in awe of the sunrises and sunsets You paint in the sky. You begin and end each day with beauty. But then I also remember all the heartache that’s in the world—broken relationships, missed opportunities, crushed spirits, and enormous need. Apart from You, we have no hope. But You can rescue us. You give us hope that life with You can be so much better than life on our own. That’s when You show us the truth of Your word and what You want for us—an abundant life.

Because Jesus came, Your dreams for us can become a reality—satisfaction, love, joy, peace, and victory. His death for us brings us life, but death didn’t hold Him. He is a living Savior, a constant Friend, a caring Shepherd, and a sympathetic High Priest. Thank You for sending Your Son so long ago. His love is still so perfect, His power unlimited, and His grace abundant. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

This Christmas I celebrate Jesus, and I am grateful that You sent Love to earth as a baby. I’m grateful that He grew up to live a perfect life, and He gave His life for us. I’m grateful for the life we can have with Him, now and forever. So I want to love You back, and live for You today and throughout the new year! In Jesus’ strong and precious name, Amen.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Joy of a Christmas Song

I am not opposed to singing Christmas songs all year long. I love them. At any time of the year, you can find me singing or whistling a Christmas tune. There’s something about the joy of a Christmas song that finds a place in your heart and you can’t let it go even when the Christmas season is over.

Here’s a sample of my Christmas Playlist:
• O Holy Night – Point of Grace
• Jesus Saves – Travis Cottrell
• Breath of Heaven – Amy Grant
• White Christmas – Bing Crosby
• Don’t Save It All for Christmas Day – Avalon

Some songs that I sing come from the days when I was a part of my former church’s Christmas program. No matter how much time has passed, I still remember the words of those songs and what it felt like to be a part of a production involving hundreds of people, complete with an eleven-level Christmas tree for the choir to sing in, toy soldiers, puppets for the kids, beautiful costumes, flickering candles, and best of all, the story of Jesus coming to earth.

Those songs include:
• Mary, Did You Know?
• All is Well
• I Have Seen the Light
• The Hallelujah Chorus
• It is Finished
• Sleigh Ride

Christmas brings joy—the music, the lights, the parties and gatherings, and the Story. Our joy as believers stems from a Baby being born, a Promise coming true, and a Hope that arrived on that first Christmas. Because of Jesus, we can have joy all year long and we can experience His love for all eternity. So even though the Christmas music may have started before Thanksgiving this year, take a moment to really hear the words and let the joy sink in. When we know Jesus, the love and the joy are here to stay.

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11 NKJV).

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ducks in a Row

In honor of my great-grandmother’s 100th birthday, I’ve asked my mom to share a devotion that she wrote about her.

Guest Blogger: Beebe Kauffman

My grandfather was a very endearing man, but sometimes he (like many of us) could get into a huff. One bright day, my grandparents were working in the garden with their three small children. Something was said or done (no one remembered what it was), and my grandfather got miffed. So he stood up and said, “I’m leaving,” and started walking up the street away from their home.

A few moments later he looked back at the garden to see if his indignation had conveyed its proper effect, but the garden was empty. He was surprised to turn around and see my grandmother walking up the street behind him. Behind her, like little ducks in a single file row, came their three children. He asked Grandmother what she was doing, and she said, “If you’re leaving, I’m going with you.” The kids said the same thing. So they laughed, and everyone got hugs. They walked back down the hill together and continued their work in the garden. Surprise, warmth, and laughter made the world around Grandmother better that day (and every day). She trumped huffiness with love, a mindset that is captured in a poem that she knew by heart:
He drew a circle that shut me out—
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win.
We drew a circle that took him in.
- Edwin Markham

Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you” (NKJV).

Prayer: Father, help us to respond to those who are dearest to us from within a circle of love. Help us to understand and accommodate their daily ups and downs. Teach us to hold onto kindness and hold onto them at the same time. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Excelling, Not Just Surviving

“I just want to make it through this day.” Have you ever thought that? “I just want to survive this day emotionally…or physically…or spiritually.” The associate pastor of my former church preached one Sunday about surviving versus excelling. We may be doing well to get out of bed in the morning, get ready for work or school, and survive the day. But God has so much more for us. He doesn’t just want to help us make it through the day in one piece. He helps us to live each day in the fullness of His love, grace, strength, and victory. If circumstances are weighing us down, God gives us the grace we need to not just survive, but excel.

The following verses have helped me to excel in my walk with God, and not let personal fears, struggles, or circumstances get the best of me. They have also helped me to know what’s possible in our relationship with God and know what we can trust Him for—His ever-present help, His abundant grace, His never-ending love, and His certain victory.

• “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 NKJV

• “Do not fear, nor be afraid; have I not told you from that time and declared it? You are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.” Isaiah 44:8 NKJV

• “And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NKJV

• “God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect.” 2 Samuel 22:33 NKJV

• “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16 NKJV

• “Yet in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37 NKJV

This Christmas we may be trying to just make it through the season, dealing with all the pressures and deadlines, keeping a busy schedule, or missing a loved one. But when we see whatever causes us to go into “survival mode” from God’s perspective, we can approach each day with a different attitude. We can begin our day with joy, knowing that He is with us and He can handle whatever comes our way. Because we have Him, we can thrive in hope. The fellowship we share with Him turns our “surviving mode” into an “excelling mode”—we’re ready to excel in the work He has given us to do, ready to bless the people we meet along the way, ready to enjoy every day with Him because we’re excited to see what He will do. God is with us every day of the year, and His love and His work in our lives enable us to excel and live the abundant life that He has for us.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Are Your Christmas Lights On?

I love Christmas lights, especially white twinkle lights. I wish that we could have Christmas lights up all year long. I love driving down the main street of my neighborhood and seeing the decorations on everyone’s houses. The household at the end of the street loves to fill their yard with all things Santa, even creating a lake of blue lights for Santa to go fishing in. The house in the next cove decks its porch with icicle lights and its yard with reindeer. The traditional, English-looking house puts soft-glowing candles in the windows. During the rest of the year, you don’t know who the “Christmas people” are—only when they turn their Christmas lights on.

Are your “lights” on? When people meet you, do they know that you have the love of God in your heart because they can see it shining through your life? We have a light to shine, a light that directs people to God, His love, and a relationship with Him. The good things that we do at Christmas, and all year long, can show people the goodness of God (Matthew 5:16). His joy can put a glow on our face that makes people wonder where that joy comes from, where our hope is found, and why we can keep going even when life is hard. This Christmas don’t let a hectic pace or busy schedule dim your light. See the people around you, and let them see the light of God in your life.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

God Named His Son

“And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6 NKJV).

One baby, many names—Jesus, Immanuel, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Son of God, Son of Man. Jesus’ name represents who He is. In Isaiah 9:6, written about seven hundred years before Christ came to earth, God foretold what His Son would be like. As our King whose rule and peace will have no end, these are His names and what they mean for us today:

Wonderful – He is the One who satisfies us and keeps us in awe.
Counselor – He is the One who guides us and helps us.
Mighty God – He is the One who has perfect power.
Everlasting Father – He is the One who loves us perfectly.
Prince of Peace – He is the One who gives us calming strength, inner stability, and lasting security.

This Christmas remember who your King is, if you have believed in Jesus as your Savior. He is a Father and a Friend. He is a Savior and a Rescuer. He is our peace and satisfaction. May His names and who He is add a special joy to your Christmas season.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Vroom, Vroom

Have you ever been happily driving along, and a car pulls in front of you, and you know they should have waited? On top of that, they’re driving well below the speed limit, so you have to slow down.

That happened to me this week as I was driving through a nearby neighborhood. The speed limit was 40 mph, and as I approached an intersection, a car decided to turn right and pull in front of me. Their speed didn’t pick up after they turned, so I slowed down to match their 30 mph trek through the neighborhood.

After momentary frustration, I realized their slower pace was better than my faster one. Caution in a neighborhood is a good thing, especially if there are pedestrians around. The car also reminded me of what God may do at times. If we are headed down a path that’s not good for us, He may get in front of us to slow us down. He has ways of warning us that we’re speeding in a direction that will only hurt us. His warning signals include His word, our conscience, the Holy Spirit, other people, and His still small voice. Sometimes He may use a horn to get our attention. Traveling the right road at a good pace is always the best way to go, but it’s not always easy. If God gets my attention and slows me down, I want to keep pace with Him.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Scenic Route

Which do you like better—enjoying the journey or arriving at the destination?

On our way to the Tennessee Smoky Mountains, my family encountered a detour. A major rockslide forced travelers to exit the interstate and take a four-lane highway around the mountains and through small towns. The four-lane highway eventually narrowed to two lanes, as we meandered our way through thick trees and along the side of steep mountains. Fortunately, my family always lets me sit in the front of the car, since I can get carsick on road trips. But I felt sorry for the person sitting in the back. The one hour that it should have taken us to reach our destination, stretched to three.

Breathtaking creeks and rivers greeted us as we made our way through the mountains, and stunning views made us stop and find our cameras. We discovered Little Pigeon River, and took pictures of wintry trees hovering over rushing water. The rockslide that we once groaned about, became a blessing because of the beauty that we saw along the way.

Sometimes God takes us on a “scenic route.” It may not be the fastest way to get there, but He knows that it’s the best way. There may be some goal we want to accomplish or some place we want to arrive at in our lives by a certain time. And we may even have the road mapped out of how to get there. But for some good reason, God takes us along a different path. It may take us a little longer to arrive at our destination than what we expected. But what we see and what we learn along the way can be worth the trip.

Have you encountered any “detours” recently? Or are you on a scenic route now? Even when the path is unexpected or difficult to endure, I hope that you see that God is with you and that you discover the beautiful things He wants to show you along the way. Where God is, joy and beauty can be found. He is the perfect Guide, and very often the longer stretches of “road” are worth the drive.

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11 NKJV).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Grateful List

Painted leaves, mountain scenes, and foggy mornings. Sunsets, double rainbows, and autumn’s first wind. Family gatherings, Christmas music, and memories of my great-grandmother. Friends who are there for you, a church that encourages you, and God who loves you. These are just some of the things that I’m grateful for.

The list goes on…the time when God told me it was going to be ok when my heart was hurting so bad. The time when I received a birthday box from my friend at just the right time. The time when my parents knew just what to say to help me. All throughout the year, and not just on Thanksgiving, we have the chance to see God work in our lives and cause our hearts to be grateful.

His work never stops. In John 5:17, Jesus said, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working” (NKJV). God is working in the hearts of people around the world, so that they know the truth and have the opportunity to believe in Him. He is working in the hearts of believers to draw them closer to Himself, heal their hurts, and give them purpose in life. Life is not free from problems, but with God, we have a solution. The ultimate thing to be grateful for, is that God loves us perfectly, and every day we get to know Him and love Him back. That is a life worth living.

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving? What would be included in your “grateful list”? I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, wherever you are in the world. Even if it’s not a national holiday where you are, take a few moments to tell God how much He means to you. And keep looking for how He is working in your life.

Thanksgiving Blessings,

Monday, November 21, 2011

1 Planet, 7 Billion People

1930 – 2 billion. 1974 – 4 billion. 1999 – 6 billion. 2011 – 7 billion.* We’re there now! It’s estimated that 7 billion people are scattered across the face of the earth. Think about all the lives, all the experiences, all the heartaches and hurts, all the joys and dreams that are represented by those 7 billion people. And God knows each one. He has created and loves each person, with their unique personality, abilities, and dreams.

I got a glimpse of just how many people are on our planet when I visited Barcelona, Spain. I had the chance to go there with my parents when I was eleven years old. My family and I stood on the corner of two streets that formed an “x,” and all I could see were apartment buildings on each side of the streets. The apartments rose high above us. I felt so small. So many apartments, so many people in one little area.

The apartments directly across from us all had balconies. Some were filled with tables and chairs, bikes, or toys. Some had rugs hanging over the railing. Others had people chatting and sipping coffee. As I looked around at all the balconies, I felt like they represented the people who lived inside. I wondered about them, who they were and what they were like.

We don’t have to go halfway around the world to know that there are so many people in the world, so many people who need to know about God and know His love. I heard a pastor once say that every person has three major needs—to be valued, to be accepted, and to be adequate. Everyone wants to know that they are loved and valued, everyone wants to belong to someone else or to a group, and everyone wants to know that they’re able to handle what comes up in life. In God, those needs are met perfectly. He can also give us other people who will love us and accept us. But only in Him are our needs ultimately satisfied.

My favorite Bible verse is Psalm 107:9, which says, “For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (NKJV). Every person is born with a God-sized hole in their hearts, a hole that only He can fill. We have the opportunity and the privilege to tell others about God, who loves them so much and wants them to belong to His “forever family.” He is the One who can satisfy their hearts like no one else can. As we walk among the 7 billion people on the planet, may we remember that God cares about each one, including us. We may be 1 in 7 billion, but God knows who we are and He loves us. We can tell others about Him…that He knows and He cares.

“O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways” (Psalm 139:1-3, NKJV).

*Population statistics come from “7 Population Milestones for 7 Billion People.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Movie Review: Courageous

The opening scene of the new movie Courageous shows the committed love of a father for his son. Throughout the movie, fathers realize the value of their role in their families, and they seek to be more devoted to their wives and children and more involved in their lives. I’ve never cried during a movie like I did during this one. It was hard to keep from crying during certain moving scenes. The depth of feeling of the characters was so real. And it was just as hard not to cry from laughing so hard at another scene. My favorite scenes include the little girl teaching her father how to dance, the “Snake King” threatening the drug pusher, and the main character running with his son.

Tragedy strikes Adam and his family, the main character who is played by Alex Kendrick, one of the writers of the screenplay. Adam’s response to the tragedy determines whether he will let an unexplainable circumstance drive him to anger and regret, or drive him closer to God. His choice affects his roles as father and husband. Adam’s response surprised me. He sought the counsel of his pastor who asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” Adam’s answer set him on a course that changed the quality of life not only for his family, but for four other families and more. The resolution of one man moved other men to step up and take their responsibility and privilege seriously.

The call of this movie is for men to have the courage to stand up for what is right and to take an active role in the emotional and spiritual health of their families. But the call isn’t only for men. In our day and culture, God is looking for men and women who will let love lead them to invest in the lives of those around them. Courage backed by love is a powerful force for good in the world. Take a moment to ask yourself, “Am I courageous? Am I motivated by love to make a difference in the world around me?”

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Guide for Life

I saw her walking alone. A woman had come from the neighborhood across the street to walk in mine. We passed each other a couple of times; I was worried about her. I’ve had some near misses with the dogs in my neighborhood. The lady walked by herself, with no umbrella to shoo away the dogs and probably with no knowledge of which houses had dogs. I wanted to tell her to be careful of the house at the end of the street that had the golden retriever. And oh, the boxer is at the end of that cove. And, that house has two dogs that always bark when I pass by. But she had no guide to tell her where the possible dangers were. She was unaware of what surprises might be waiting for her along the way.

As we walk through life, we have a Guide, if we have a relationship with God. He knows where the possible dangers are, which paths to avoid, and where we need to tread softly. He also knows which paths will bring us joy and opportunities to do good. Some things might take us by surprise, but God always knows what will happen. We can trust Him, and He is ready to give us what we need to face each new situation. With God, we have a Guide for life that loves us and walks with us each day.

How does God guide us? By His word, by His Spirit, and by His eye. Psalm 32:8, one of my favorite verses, says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye” (NKJV). When we keep our focus on God and follow His lead, instead of our own reasoning, He will guide us into what is good. The last phrase of Psalm 32:8 refers to when a servant could just look at his master and know what he was thinking. With the wink of an eye, the master could tell his servant what to do.*

As we study Scripture more, we will know what our Master in heaven desires for us to do. God will help us to know which paths to walk in, as we keep our hearts set towards Him and our mind’s eye constantly fixed on Him. He will guide us continually, and make us whole and strong, satisfying our souls and strengthening our bones.

“The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11, NKJV

*Notes adapted from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, quoted in Phil Lindner, Power Bible CD. CD-ROM. Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2007.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Flying in the Wind

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25 NKJV).

This morning I watched the leaves fall as I was sitting in the kitchen eating breakfast. The red and yellow leaves seemed to be at the mercy of the wind. Wherever the wind was blowing, that’s where the leaves were sent. Then one leaf flew straight out of the tree, determined to go in a definite direction, not whirled about by the wind. I quickly realized that it was a bird.

Some of the winds of life seek to push us in directions we don’t want to go. The world pushes us to take on its ways, adversity pushes us to sadness or anger, and other people’s choices can break our hearts or crush our joy. Yet we make the ultimate choice of which direction we take in life. No matter what our circumstances are, our attitude determines the direction we pursue and how we respond to different things. We have the choice to live undaunted by worldly pressure or trying situations. We can respond to difficult circumstances and people with Godliness, still filled with God’s love, still filled with His hope.

In which direction are the winds trying to push you? Which direction does God have for you to take? The winds of life aren’t always bad. Sometimes they push us to draw closer to God, because we see our need of Him, His peace, and His strength. He enables us to “fly straight” in the wind, to keep to His course for our lives and to have grace and strength in difficult times. When we build our lives on His truth, we will be able to stand strong when the winds and the rain beat down on us. So depend on God who takes care of His children. Stay grounded in truth, and at the same time, mount up with “wings as eagles” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV). God enables us to rise above the world and troubles in victory.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Our Constant Sentry

They had been running for three weeks. An American missionary family stationed in Columbia was running for their lives. These missionaries were leading so many people to Christ, that the drug lords wanted to kill them. Once the people believed in Christ, they abandoned their work for the drugs lords, and sought a new way of life.

The missionary family finally made their way through the jungle to a safe compound which was friendly to Christians. There they found refuge. But it was hard for the missionary father to sleep that first night, because he had been guarding his family for so long. In the middle of the night, he looked out the window and saw armed guards stationed around the wall. Now he could sleep, knowing that others were awake and on guard to protect his family.

The next morning the father went to the leader of the compound to thank him for posting the guards. But none had been posted. Just as God had opened the eyes of Elisha's servant to see the chariots of fire sent to protect Elisha, God had opened this man's eyes to see His angels standing guard and protecting them.

God is constantly on guard, keeping watch over His children. His protection may be visible or invisible, but He is always there, stationed as a sentry on the wall. Whenever we are afraid, we can put our trust in Him, because He who keeps us never sleeps (Psalm 121:3)

"And Elisha prayed, 'O LORD, open his eyes that he may see.' Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and he saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." 2 Kings 6:17 NKJV

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hang In There

Two and a half chapters in two weeks. I didn't think I was going to make it. Women of Faith held a contest for all attendees to submit a faith-based book to West Bow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson. Thousands and thousands of women attended Women of Faith conferences across America last year. The contest asked for women to share their story, something that would encourage other women. (Out of tens of thousands of women, I wonder just how many entered the contest!)

I wanted to submit a book that encouraged women to know God's purpose for their lives and to depend on Him to carry it out. This book has been a long time in coming, and I hoped to finish it by the deadline. My mom wanted to finish hers also. I didn't know if we could make it. I needed to write two and a half chapters in two weeks. It took some late nights and lots of prayer. We made it! God gave us the grace to keep writing and the words to say. Sometimes I just didn't know what to write, but He supplied the words, words I hope He uses to bless others.

Have you ever been there? You felt like giving up on something difficult, but God kept you going? If you're working hard on a project, whatever it is, and you don't think it's going to happen, hang in there. Just when we feel like giving up, God infuses us with His grace and helps us to keep going. He gives us His strength, wisdom, and joy to make it to the finish line. How has God helped you to keep going when you felt like quitting? What encouragement can you give others when the road gets hard and the task seems impossible?

Here is a poem I'd like to share that has helped me. Keep at it! Don't give up. God and His grace are with you.

Don't Quit

By Jill Wolf

Don't quit when the tide is lowest, for it's just about to turn.
Don't quit over doubts and questions, for there's something you may learn.
Don't quit when the night is darkest, for it's just a while 'til dawn.
Don't quit when you've run the farthest, for the race is almost won.
Don't quit when the hill is steepest, for your goal is almost nigh.
Don't quit for you're not a failure, until you fail to try.