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Cast Your Cares

This post is a part of the 5-minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt and see what happens. No heavy editing allowed. As today’s word is “carry,” I thought it would be appropriate to share an excerpt from my recently published book, Cast Your Cares: A 40-Day Journey to Find Rest for Your Soul, which released on March 8. This excerpt is from chapter 2, “The Practice of Casting Your Cares.”

Trying to cast your cares on God is like playing with a boomerang. You throw it as hard as you can only to have it come right back to you. That’s the object with a boomerang, but it’s frustrating when this happens with our cares and concerns. We want to throw them to God, and we don’t want them back.

First Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Just cast all the things you are worried about onto the strong shoulders of the almighty God. Sounds peaceful, relieving, and restful, doesn’t it? But what does it look like? How do we practice casting our cares on him?

When we give something over to someone else to take care of, we are saying that we give over control, that this is theirs now. Our cares are gone. Off our shoulders. There’s a prayer called the Serenity Prayer that asks God to grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change (to cast our cares on him), the courage to change the things we can (to do what we can to address the cares), and the wisdom to
know the difference.

It’s often this last part that causes the majority of our trouble. But we worry less when we seek God’s help, asking for his wisdom to reveal what we might do to change or accept the situation.

So when your teenager keeps making bad decisions, you pray and ask God to help you release that child to him. And when the desire overwhelms you to constantly check where they are, or to worry about who they’re with, or to question them when they get home, you take a deep breath and release that worry. They are in God’s hands. Ask God to give you wisdom for how to respond to your child. Ask that he bring friends into your teen’s life who will influence them to make better choices, who will build them up rather than tear them down. You might have to do this over and over again, but keep turning your worry over to God. As you do, his peace will fill your heart.

Or maybe you’re concerned about an aging parent’s health. Perhaps you see them struggling with memory issues or the ability to take care of themselves. Even as you might make decisions to get them the care they need, you find yourself burdened by the load of your care. And so you pray and give that care into the hands of not only your heavenly Father but also their heavenly Father. Each time the knot of
worry pulls tightly on your stomach, take a deep breath and remind yourself of how much their heavenly Father cares for them. The burden is not yours to carry.

Quite frankly, we can’t take care of everything by ourselves. We were never meant to do that. Instead, our loving God desires us to come to him with all our shattered dreams, disillusionment, dashed hopes, and fears. He waits for us.

Remember that what feels like such turmoil within you doesn’t even stir the waters of God’s great love for you. Your anxieties don’t faze him.

Because God is so big and so powerful, those concerns aren’t too heavy for him. Let God have them because he cares for you. Remember, he knows the future, including your future, and his plans for you are good. Cast those cares.

Excerpted from Cast Your Cares: A 40-Day Journey to Find Rest for Your Soul (Zondervan, 2022)

Something I Never Thought I’d Achieve

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt and see what happens. No heavy editing allowed. Today’s word is “achieve.”

I’ve never been a big one to have large goals. But one thing I’ve always wanted to do is write a book. I’m a creative writer, majored in that in college, but most of the writing I do now is devotional writing. I had very little hope of achieving my goal of getting a novel published. But God had other plans, and they didn’t look exactly like mine, go figure.

And so, I wrote a book!

I kind of feel like I cheated a little because the book is for my employer, Abide Christian Meditation (now part of the Guideposts family, btw). They got the contract with Zondervan, after all, not me. But the task of putting together the book fell on me as the senior editor for Abide.

And not only one book, but two.

So the first book released October 12, 2021. It’s called Peace With the Psalms: 40 Readings to Relax Your Mind and Calm Your Heart. It’s a collection of Abide’s meditations from the Psalms that I edited into devotional format. They are beautiful and calming and I highly recommend the book (of course).

But the second book is the one I’m most proud of. It’s called Cast Your Cares: A 40-Day Journey to Find Rest for Your Soul. It will be released on February 8, 2022. It started out as the same format as Peace, but because of the depth of the subject matter, Zondervan’s editor asked me to expand on every chapter. And so, I would say the writing is about 80% mine. That’s just a guess.

And this one actually has my name on the title page: with Stephanie Reeves.

I’m super excited for you to get this book. It’s on presale now at your favorite bookseller. It’s the #1 new release in the “religious meditations” category on Amazon. Need rest for your soul in the areas of anxiety, fear, loneliness, finances, self-image, shame and more? Cast Your Cares speaks to them all.

These books were a gift, basically dropped in my lap by God. It’s not how I pictured achieving my book-writing goal, but for now, it’s the avenue God gave me. And I’m very happy to share it with you!

Does God Give Trial Offers?

This post is part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt and see what happens. No heavy editing allowed. Today’s prompt is “trial.”

I know how to work the system.

At least when it comes to taking advantage of trial offers. I get emails from companies like Sling and Fubo TV, and because we don’t subscribe to cable, if there’s a sporting event I want to watch, I will sign up for a free 7-day (or 3-day or 30-day, whatever. I’m not picky) offer. And then I put a reminder on my phone so that I cancel in time and don’t end up getting charged for a whole month.

I love Fubo TV’s 3-day offers. They remind you when it’s time to cancel, and when you do, they ask straight up why you’re cancelling, and one of the choices is “I just wanted to watch one game.” Yep. Honesty. I love that.

It’s frustrating to me that when it comes to things like Monday Night Football, I would have to pay a premium to subscribe to a service where I can get ESPN, when I rarely watch it. It’s not worth it to me. I only watch when the Raiders are playing. Or there’s some baseball playoff game or other important sporting event.

God is worth way more than a free trial. And yet He tells us to test Him out, to try Him. Psalm 34:8 says “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” And if you decide that you’re not getting what you thought you would out of a relationship with God—He’s not living up to your expectations—you can walk away from Him. But you know what? He will never walk away from you. Unlike a company that wants your business because you send them money—otherwise they couldn’t care less about you—God loves you oh so very much. And instead of you paying Him for this relationship, He paid everything for you.

Impossible!

This post is a part of the 5-Minute Friday link-up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt and see what happens (OK, I confess that I cheated on the time today. This took way longer than 5 minutes!) No heavy editing allowed.

One of the things I like best about a good Cinderella story is the idea that something that seems impossible becomes a possibility with just a little bit of magic, a fairy godmother who will change your circumstances so that you can even get a foot in the door, a chance to catch the eye of the prince, and hope. Lots and lots of hope.

One of my favorite versions is the 1998 movie “Ever After: A Cinderella Story” starring Drew Barrymore and Dougray Scott. She is feisty and thoughtful and considerate. The first time she actually meets the prince in person, she throws an apple at him and knocks him off her horse, which she thinks he is stealing before she actually recognizes that he’s the prince. Oops.

Through a lot of subterfuge on her part and assumptions on his, the prince thinks she is a courtier and therefore someone that he can hang out with. But she’s actually just an orphan living in their ramshackle estate house while her stepmother and stepsisters dismantle it from the inside piece by piece.

As the prince and Cinderella spend more time together, hangin’ with DaVinci and talking about education and its importance for everyone, getting set upon by gypsies who they then befriend, romantic interest grows.

But the prince is being pressured by his father to get married, preferably to a princess from another country so that an alliance can be made. And so, of course, the whole story of the ball and Cinderella’s appearance, the glass slipper, the pumpkin turned coach. All those magical things.

And they all lived happily ever after.

“Ever After” was not a musical, but the 1965 Rodgers and Hammerstein version, introducing Lesley Ann Warren as Cinderella, included a song called “Impossible.” Here are some of the lyrics:

Impossible
For a plain yellow pumpkin
To become a golden carriage!
Impossible
For a plain country bumpkin
And a prince to join in marriage!
And four white mice will never be four white horses—
Such fol-de-rol and fiddledy dee of course is
Impossible!

But the world is full of zanies and fools
Who don’t believe in sensible rules
And won’t believe what sensible people say,
And because these daft and dewy-eyed dopes
Keep building up impossible hopes,
Impossible things are happ’ning every day!

“But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’” (Matthew 19:26).

What are you trusting God for today?

The Best-Laid Plans

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt and see what happens. No heavy editing allowed. Today’s prompt is “determine.”

It’s been a disappointing week. I had in-person things lined up several days: a dinner meeting, coffee with a friend, our monthly MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) meeting where I’m a mentor mom, and dinner with two long-time friends that I haven’t seen in years.

And then my husband got Covid. *sigh* We didn’t know until yesterday (Thursday) that it was for sure Covid. It was a mild case and he thought it was just seasonal allergies until he got a low-grade fever. So, while we waited for results (rapid tests are very hard to come by around here), we had to isolate.

I had to take a long look at what my priorities were. The beginning of the year is usually a time when people set goals, make resolutions, etc., but rather than go big, I needed to decide whether or not I was going to be OK with my fun week all of a sudden being ripped apart.

I haven’t been OK with it.

But yesterday as we waited, the Lord and I had a long talk. I haven’t done much in the past two years. Fun outside of my house has been hard to find. But I didn’t want to be that person who just went about their business knowing I very well might have been exposed to the virus.

So I had to determine in my heart to accept the losses with grace. My dinner meeting was held virtually, coffee with my friend can be rescheduled, MOPS met without me and didn’t fall apart, my friends are still my friends even though we can’t be together.

Disappointing, yes, but not the end of the world. I am determined to find the beauty alongside the losses. God is still good.

I’m also determined to not let this virus take over my life. I’m vaxxed but not boosted yet, careful but not obsessively so, concerned but not frightened. I want to be respectful of other people’s opinions and choices and hope they are respectful of mine.

So now I wait to see if I start showing symptoms. Every little sniffle, every clearing of my throat from drainage that *could be* allergies and the sinus issues that come with Florida’s flakey winter weather, start me praying and hoping that my immune system will do its job.

I’m supposed to go on a retreat with several friends in 6 days. I am cautiously hopeful that will happen.