Window Shopping

Back in the day – B.C. (before COVID) - window shopping in clothing stores was one of my favorite past times. I didn’t always buy anything, just enjoyed trying on clothes. There’s no better pick-me-up than trying on a nice outfit to boost your ego.

Since our country was in lockdown for a while, little luxuries like shopping haven’t been available. Online shopping isn’t the same thing. I like to try on clothes in front of the mirrors that highlight the good, the bad and the ugly. In triplicate.

As things are starting to open up, there are some obvious changes with businesses. Dressing rooms in every store are closed indefinitely.  This means I have to make an actual purchase now. That entails bringing clothes home to try on and making a return trip for an exchange if things don’t fit. 

During a recent shopping/return trip, the “closed” sign on the dressing rooms got me thinking about a friend. Throughout our very long friendship, I’ve tried unsuccessfully to share the gospel message of Jesus with her.  I’ve tried everything short of beating her over the head with my Bible to get her to accept Jesus as her Savior. She’s made it plain, she’s not interested. 

When this COVID thing started early in the year, my friend was so consumed with fear, she required medication and barely got of bed for the first few weeks. I figured there was no better time to try sharing Jesus with her again. She was a little more receptive because the world was in chaos and she wasn’t coping.  

My friend brought Jesus home with her to “try on,” but quickly wanted to make a return. Her problem seemed to be that she thought she was buying a “one-size-fits-all” religion, rather than getting to know the real Jesus. My friend was only “window shopping.” 

I’ve never tried to sell her something under false pretenses. I’ve been clear that Jesus is not about religion, but a relationship. I’m not giving up on her though. My prayer for her and anyone looking for peace and reassurance during these uncertain times is to bring Jesus home. Try Him on and wear Him around the house until He becomes a perfect fit. 

You can try and wear Jesus out – but once you say “yes” to Him – He’s not going anywhere. He wants to wrap His Holy Spirit around you and keep you safe throughout the storms of life.

“But I will call on God, and the Lord will rescue me.”  Psalm 55:16 (NLT)

Kathy Kurlin
Author

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Chatter That Doesn’t Matter

We see social media posts all the time mentioning that “life is short.”  (And it truly is.)  So, why do we waste our time with chatter that doesn’t matter?  Why don’t we say something nice instead of talking negatively?

I know so many times I should have said something nice but it got pushed down in my throat because I hovered over the negative to complain.  Chances are you have done that also.  “That’s good but it should be this way ____.”  “I like what they did but I would have done it this way _____.”

We would feel much better to slide to the positive rather than sit in the negative.

To help us both, here are the beginning of sentences we can keep in our head to stay on the positive and regain a friendship and/or heal a hurt, and correct our attitudes:

I may have never said this, but….
I was so impressed when you…
I have always admired you because…
I never said I’m sorry when…
You inspired me when you…
I would love to know more about…
Thank you so much for the time you…
I love you because…

Recognizing that negative tendency is not healthy, both of us can let Jesus be the guide in showing grace and love.  Starting today.

Lord, you’re so kind and tenderhearted to those who don’t deserve it and so patient with people who fail you! Your love is like a flooding river overflowing its banks with kindness.  Psalm 103:8 TPT

 

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG Ministries

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Tripping Hazards

My neighborhood boasts a gifted artistic craftsman who hand paints ordinary rocks and turns them into works of arts. The artist sprinkles our streets with assorted rocks painted to resemble insects, fruits, vegetables and cartoon characters. Included in the artistry, are also inspirational rocks that contain simple messages of love, joy, peace and hope.

Until recently, my daily walks were for the sake of exercise only. A typical walk found me hoofing it at a brisk pace, head down to avoid tripping hazards while music flowed through my headphones, distracting me from my laborious breathing.

Not long ago, I momentarily shifted my eyes from my feet to appreciate a rainbow of beautiful flowers surrounding a fire hydrant. Nestled amongst the colorful flora I spied a happy little ladybug rock.

Upon my discovery, I couldn’t help but wonder how many other painted masterpieces I might have missed due to my regular downward posture? How many other sights, sounds or smells of the season was I missing because my goal was racking up steps on my fitness tracker?

From that day on, I decided to change up my routine. Rather than walking solely for exercise, I vowed to pay closer attention to my surroundings.

I quickly discovered many painted rocks and began noticing the beautiful colors of a desert in full bloom. Not only did I come to appreciate the smells of those desert blooms, but I soon delighted in hearing the trills and songs of the morning birds that nested in them. I also developed an ear for hearing from God as I started appreciating His artistic creation of nature.

While I’d previously spent much of my efforts tuning out my environment because of headphones, I was also guilty of shutting God out. He helped me to see that walking with my head down and concentrating on my foot placement was actually similar to the way I’d been dealing with some of my worrisome life trials.

I’d made a habit of focusing only on my problems, to the point that I was overly stressed and conjuring up a host of “what if” scenarios that likely would never happen.  I was trusting in myself to solve these difficulties rather than looking up and seeking God’s wise counsel.

We can walk through life, heads down, relying on ourselves, thereby missing all that God has for us - OR - we can trust HIM completely. God will direct our paths and teach us where we should walk and help us avoid tripping hazards if we will allow HIM to be our guide.

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8 (NLT)

Kathy Kurlin
Author

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Beautiful Butterfly

I was sent a picture of a saying on a t-shirt that went like this...

"I want to be a caterpillar. Eat a lot. Sleep for a while. Wake up beautiful."

Did that make you smile like it did me? Well what made me smile even more is that in Jesus we already ARE like the caterpillar!

We CAN, "eat a lot" -

Taste and see that the LORD is good. (Psalm 34:8)

Ezekiel sure did! Ezekiel 3:3 states, Then he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it." So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.

And what did he get to do next once he ingested the Word of God? He then said to me: "Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them. (Ezekiel 3:4)

Good to know that when we have eaten a lot of His Word we then have something worth sharing! Something that will not return empty (Isaiah 55:11)

We CAN, "sleep a lot" -

We CAN because He doesn't! He will not let your foot slip- he who watches over you will not slumber. (Psalm 121:3) In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)

We CAN, "wake up beautiful" -

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

A caterpillar is not worried. If it operated in fear no cocoons would ever be attempted. They have to trust and rely only on how God equipped to evolve. And they can't give up in the waiting period, they must sleep and get rest or the something beautiful won't emerge. Can you imagine a world without butterflies? Or, can you imagine a world where butterflies just walked around and never risked using the wings God gave them? That would be sad.

The butterfly’s beauty carries a message of hope. You too, dear one in Jesus, have a message of hope to bring for Him into the world. Don't be afraid, don't give up.  Trust Him to lead you. (Psalm 16:7-8)

So, feast on His Word daily. Rest in His mighty hand and trust that the King of kings, will wake you up beautiful in His eternal unshakable kingdom. Do not give up.  Within you is His beautiful message of hope!

Independent Read: 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

Janette Kieffer
Author

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Full Access

My husband and I attended a concert and as we sat in our seats in the large venue, we noticed a line of people standing near the front of the stage.  These were the people who paid extra money to get a backstage pass to meet the entertainer.  A lot of extra money.

I wondered what it was like to meet her and have a possible 5 second conversation with her.  I would remember it but would she remember me?  How meaningful an experience could that be and would it be worth the cost?

The thoughts of having that backstage pass made me think of what it may be like when we leave this life to meet our Creator.  Will there be a band playing?  Will there be a spread of snacks and drinks?  Will someone welcome us with a sign with our name on it?

Of course, we don’t know the answers to any of those questions.  We can’t know beforehand because no one on earth has had the experience and returned to tell us.

What I want you to know is Jesus waits to welcome you to your new eternal home when you leave here.  He loves you and has never once wanted you to be anyplace else except in heaven.  You can make choices to be a woman who is walking in the light of Jesus.  If a wrong decision is made, forgiveness is freely given and you can step up to a new level of life.

He always remembers you.  Your life can be a meaningful experience with a decision to get full access.

It is not temporary.  It is permanent.  God’s love is never-ending.  Not even for a little while.

Then, to top it off, the entire cost has already been paid for you.

For this is how much God loved the world – he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift.  So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life.  John 3:16

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG Ministries

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Blocked

Hey, friend! Have you ever been blocked by someone on social media?

I have. Let me tell you - getting blocked or deleted on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram is humiliating. Plain and simple - it hurts. Especially when someone you care about blocks you. Discovering your friends are able to “see” posts and pictures but you can’t - oh my - Jesus, help me!

Social media can spotlight unwanted-ness, left out-ness, not-in-the-circle, lacking, out-of-the-loop - rejection on steroids.

My FOMO Enneagram 7-ness magnifies “being blocked.” Although on the exterior I might appear to be happy and light-hearted, feelings of rejection simmer internally. I have a sneaky feeling some of you feel the same.

B U T - here is the Good News! You are not blocked from God’s grace or love. He does not “unfriend” or block you. He wants to “friend” you and have you join with those who have repented of their sin and received eternal life.

Friends, don’t allow rejection by others to negatively color your view of God. He is a good Father and promises to never leave or forsake us. “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us. He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32

May you experience His love in a new and fresh way.

Cheering you on!

Kathy Troyer
Author

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The New “Normal”

In the span of a few weeks, the world has been turned upside down. We find ourselves in situations that are completely out of our control. The things we’ve taken for granted like going to work, school, dining out, attending church or popping by the store for milk and toilet paper suddenly aren’t so easy. We’ve been stripped of life’s simple pleasures.

With little to no warning, we are living with a brand new normal that involves a great deal of uncertainty and a heaping helping of fear.

This is not the plot for a science fiction movie with an alternate universe. Our lives now revolve around alarming statistics and imposed directives to practice social distancing and remain at home. The craziness currently gripping our nation is stirring up a lot of unprecedented worries.

Feeling fear is something we all do – even Christians. The Bible doesn’t tell us we shouldn’t feel fear – but rather it directs us on how to respond when we are plagued by fear.  God knows the world is filled with evil and can be a scary place. That’s why His Word contains at least 356 “DO NOT FEAR” references - one for every day of the year.

As Christ followers, we have been presented with a unique opportunity because of COVID-19. We have more opportunities than ever to witness to our unsaved loved ones and neighbors who may be consumed with panic. Are we that beacon of light drawing the lost in and sharing our faith in Christ or are we cowering at home consumed with worry like much of the world?

We know this pandemic will end and that Jesus is still Lord. This pandemic is no surprise to God and certainly not too big for Him to handle. As we practice social-distancing and adapt to quarantine mandates, we can still be used by God in BIG ways. Social media and our smart phones are all great mediums for messaging, texting, calling and encouraging others during these difficult days.

Let us not forget the importance of prayer either. Many of us have more time on our hands than ever, so it’s important to pray for each other. We need to lift up the sick, the caregivers, first responders and our government officials who are tasked with making difficult decisions and risking their own health to treat the sick and beat this virus.

When all is said and done, brothers and sisters … I pray we can be the hope!

The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.

Nahum 1:7 (NLT)

Kathy Kurlin
Author

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Influencers

One of my sons suggested my husband and I watch the Netflix feature about the Fyre Festival. Oh. My. Goodness.

The entire documentary was like watching a train wreck that you know is going to happen but you keep hoping it doesn’t. Sheesh. Anxiety started building up about four minutes in. I still am shaking my head thinking about it.

The Fyre Festival was touted as a celebrity-filled music festival set on a beautiful Bahamian island.   I’m not going to say any more about the movie and I’m not suggesting you watch it.  What I do want to talk about are the people in the movie who were labeled as the “influencers”.  People who, just because of their social or celebrity status, have the power to influence the masses.  Merely by posting on social media they can influence lives and finances. A beautiful model posted about the Fyre Festival and soon hundreds of people started to sign up - paying out huge dollar amounts to attend a unique music festival. That is influence, my friends. Attaching a celebrity’s face or name to an event has incredible influence on others to purchase, buy in, take part and the reverse can be true.

We may not be celebrities but we are influencers.
You are. I am.
Who are we influencing?
What are we influencing others to buy in to?

These are valid questions for all of us to ponder.

I want to influence others to live godly lives, full of mercy and grace, extending forgiveness and offering hope so they may know the joy I have in my heart - all because of Jesus.

May God help each of us influence others in the right direction for the right reasons.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Kathy Troyer
Author

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Glitches

Faithfulness shines at its brightest in the middle of troubles.

 

 

 

God already knows what’s going on.

He knows you are hurting and afraid.

 

 

Thank Him.

As hard as it is to do, thank Him for the problem.

Then sit quietly.

And wait.

 

 

Some of us have been waiting for days.

Some of us have been waiting for years.

 

 

Thank Him and give the troubles to Him.

And wait because the wait gives hope.

 

 

You’ll be stronger.

You’ll be more confident.

You’ll be quieter.

 

 

Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7

 

Sherree Fischer
loveSTRONG Ministries

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Do It Afraid

Having facilitated vision boards for over 70 people in January 2020 alone, one theme keeps emerging as a focus for the new year: moving past fear.

Women are afraid to write their story, afraid to open up their home, afraid to teach a class, afraid to pursue a new relationship.

You've heard the adage "be careful asking God to make you more patient because He will give you plenty of chances to practice patience" but it applies to other areas of life as well. If we ask God to make us fearless, why do we think He is going to make us magically more courageous? It's like we assume He's going to outfit us with an invisible hero cape. "I'm going to wake up tomorrow without fear!" No! He is going to give us opportunities to push through our fear.

I'm going to wake up tomorrow with a dead battery and have to push through my fear to talk to a new neighbor about giving my battery a jump.

I'm going to face a diagnosis, a confrontation I'd rather avoid, a financial setback and give my faith muscles a workout.

I've learned over the years that people I admire aren't fearless, they're just doing scary things afraid.

I joke that nothing scares me anymore and it's nearly true. I've faced many of the things I use to be scared of, whether heading up a committee, attending an event alone, taking a speaking gig, publishing a controversial blog post or singing in front of 300 people. Every experience taught me something and helped me face the next challenge with greater confidence.

I still walk into meetings and appointments with a low grade nervousness at best and full blown fight or flight reaction at worst. When I sang in front of 300 people I literally fought the instinct to leave through the back, thinking, "They would just go on without me" and forced myself to stay in my seat until it was time to go on stage. Once I had the mic in my mind, my nerves dissipated and when the song was over, I felt like I could have soared out of there with relief!

The truth is, God promises to be with us wherever we go. We never have to face anything alone. We are commanded to be strong and courageous.

Joshua 1:9 says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Plus the Holy Spirit offers us supernatural strength.

Ephesians 3:16 states, "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being."

We can do hard things with God on our side.

To date, no one has literally died from stage fright so chances are, you'll survive whatever scary thing you're facing and you'll be stronger for it.

What would you do if you fear weren't an obstacle? Maybe God is calling you to do just that...together with Him.

Tabitha Dumas
Author

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