Tag Archive | five minute Friday

Quick to Listen

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. Today’s prompt is “quick.”

 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires
(James 1:19-20, NIV).

We all want to be heard. That’s a very common and universal human trait. But sometimes, putting words out there can be scary. There are many times when I will type out a comment on someone’s post online and then backspace, backspace, backspace. I just know that what I said will cause someone to say something in return that is unkind.

I don’t need that kind of negativity. Better that I leave my thoughts unsaid online.

When Jesus’ brother James wrote his letter to the scattered tribes, he wrote to them about their behavior. He wrote about not just hearing the word, but doing it.

He wrote about being humble.

Photo by Tomas Anunziata on Pexels.com

I am often guilty of not being an active listener—listening carefully, asking questions, not just waiting for my chance to give my opinion. That’s not humility. That’s thinking that what I have to say is more important.

It’s like when I’m driving down a road with a double yellow line and someone decides to pass me going way over the speed limit.

They certainly weren’t caring about me or anyone else on the road. They were self-important and just wanted to get where they were going more quickly.

I am determined to not be that kind of driver in conversations, just running over people’s words to get where I want the conversation to go.

Quick to listen. Slow to speak.

Never a Fair-weather Fan

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. Today’s word is “owe.”

have been an Oakland A’s baseball fan for a very long time. From the championship years of the 70s to, well, today. Not saying that I’m ending my allegiance today, but just that today looks a lot different from years in the past.

This year, I’ve considered for the very first time finding another team to root for. The pain, anguish, and disappointment of this year year has almost been too much for me to bear.

My husband asked me recently why I’m staying loyal to them. What have they done for me lately? Well, nothing. But that’s not the point, is it? I don’t stay loyal because I owe them my loyalty. Yes, I grew up with them. But I stay loyal because they’re my team.

I am not a fair-weather fan. I have celebrated with them and I will stay with them when ownership is running the team into the ground. It’s certainly not John Fisher I give my loyalty to. But those guys on the field? It’s fun to watch Esteury Ruiz swipe bags, Ryan Noda make amazing between-the-legs flips to get the runner out at first, JJ Bleday run, stretch and dive to make catches in the outfield, Tony Kemp leap and roll to make a play wherever he is playing.

I don’t give up on my team when they disappointment me, whether it be for the first time or the 50th. It won’t be like this forever.

And God doesn’t give up on me. I’m sure I look a lot like this 2023 Oakland Athletics team to Him sometimes.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! (1 Chronicles 16:24, ESV).

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

This post is part of the Five-Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a 1-word prompt and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “chapter.”

With a nod to Charles Dickens for the use of his classic first line of A Tale of Two Cities, so far, almost halfway through, 2023 has shaped up to be … pretty much like every other year. There have been some pretty low lows, but some blessings mixed in. Overall, it’s been plain to see that God is good. He always has been, and He always will be.

Our last couple of months have encapsulated that. We’ve experienced severe disappointment, but we’ve also laughed, built relationships, and seen beauty. We’ve gotten to enjoy time with our grandson, who is growing way too quickly, and walked with our daughter through an unexpected breakup. We celebrated our 32nd anniversary in the mountains of North Carolina and attended the memorial service of a friend taken by cancer, leaving her 3 daughters orphans. We witnessed our eldest son earn his brown belt in taekwondo and said goodbye to dear friends who moved thousands of miles away.

It’s like two tracks on a railroad. Joy and sadness are side by side, and when you look at them in the horizon, they appear to touch.

We’re moving on to the next chapter in this sometimes frustrating, always interesting, not-yet-finished book of our lives that God is writing. We don’t know what the next chapter will bring. We’re just turning page after page, trusting that the author—who really is a master storyteller—will not let us down.

The good thing about this kind of book, unlike some long-standing series where eventually the author really has to move on, is that we get to spend eternity with the Author getting to know Him and the characters in our story even better.

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!