Monthly Archives: January 2015

Fight Back With Joy

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MF book2-300x272I know you’re ready for this.  Once you heard that my friend Margaret Feinberg had written a new book, you knew I would read it and tell you all about it.  Whelp … you were right!  Released this month is FIGHT BACK WITH JOY:  Celebrate More. Regret Less. Stare down your Greatest Fears (2015, Worthy Publishing, TN).

In FIGHT BACK WITH JOY Margaret chronicles her fight with breast cancer and how her walk with God grew ever deeper in the fight.  But, lest you think that this book is only for those suffering a killer disease, let me assure you, it’s not.  We all suffer trials and tribulations in our lives.  At times we are strong, knowing God is with us, marching along beside us – and sometimes carrying us – through the fire.  But there are other times, times we may not like to admit, when our faith may weaken, where we look up into the heavens questioning, struggling to hear His voice.  It was by discovering joy that Margaret made it through the fire.

It wasn’t easy, by any means.  She didn’t just discover joy, she manufactured it.  She purposed out actions that would bring joy to others and in turn, received joy herself.  Isn’t that the way God always works?  We obey and He blesses.  We bring aide to another and receive a gift in return.  Give joy and get joy.  Give praise and thanksgiving to God and get joy and blessings in return.  But just how does one find joy in a situation such as this?

I don’t think I’m telling too much out of school when I tell you that one of my favorite parts was the chapter entitled Three Simple Words to Set You Free.  Margaret tells us, “The journey to joy begins with acceptance.”  I nod as I’m reading.  Isn’t it true?  As I grow older I’m able to consider Paul’s ability to be “content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11) and not laugh it off like something I’ll never achieve.  The deeper my walk with Christ, the more and more content I become.   Chalk it up to the Holy Spirit.  I could never have developed it on my own.

The book has also spawned a companion six-week Bible study which I have purchased but have not yet begun.  FIGHT BACK WITH JOY is laced with humor and desperate with pain all the while bringing God’s word to the party in support, guidance, and our prize.  As with other studies that Margaret has penned (Wonderstruck, Scouting the Divine, The Sacred Echo) this one has made me think, brought me closer to our Lord, and shifted my walk with Jesus in a delightful, expansive way.

No matter what your circumstances, you can practice defiant joy. When you do, you will embrace a life that’s richer and fuller than you’ve ever known before—a life radiant with joy.

Below you’ll find some links (none of which are affiliates so feel free to click away!).

Learn more about Margaret at http://margaretfeinberg.com

Here’s the link to the book on amazon: http://mar.cta.gs/0bi.

Here’s the link to the book at Barnes & Noble: http://mar.cta.gs/0bh.

To purchase the Bible Study Kit:   6-Session Bible Study Kit: http://mar.cta.gs/0aq.

Margaret Feinberg teaches at churches and conferences including Catalyst, Thrive, and Women of Joy. She was recently named one of 50 women most shaping church and culture by Christianity Today. Her books and Bible studies, including The Organic God, The Sacred Echo, Scouting the Divine, and Wonderstruck, have sold nearly a million copies. She lives in Colorado, with her husband, Leif, and their superpup, Hershey. She believes some of the best days are spent in jammies, laughing and being silly.

You Are Loved

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I volunteer on the Prayer Team at my church. We’re a bunch of people who have felt the call of God to stand in the gap for those who are unable to do so themselves.  We pray for the pastors, the church, the lost, the service as it’s progressing; and we pray over all those prayer requests that congregants fill out and place in the collection plate.  Some of us also work at the altar, receiving those who come down for prayer.  Sometimes God even sends me up into the seats to pray for someone … but that’s a different story.

Recently, while praying at church, I was overcome by a sense that a lot of people thought that their past was so bad that they weren’t worthy of being saved … that their sin was so bad that God couldn’t possibly love them.

Their pain was raw.  I could feel it.

And it hurt.

I shed tears as I prayed for those souls, asking God to peel back the layers of their hearts and speak His life into them.  Let them know of His gracious love.

The anguish.  The despair.  The deep pit of lost … it was almost overwhelming.

I know that feeling.

The feeling that maybe you’ve done some things and lived a certain way for so long that there is no turning back … no help for you …

You think …

God can’t possibly use me.

God can’t possibly love me.

But suddenly you’re on your feet.  Something (someOne) drives you to answer the Pastor’s call to prayer and walk to the front of church after the service.

I see you walking down the aisle to the altar.  I see your eyes searching for a friendly face.  For acceptance.  For love.

That’s when I smile, hold out my hands, and take yours in mine.

And as you break down into tears, the whole of your journey following you to this point, I whisper gently …

Jesus loves you so much.

Not only has He been waiting for you your whole life, He is waiting to use you to fulfill His glory.

He knows exactly who you are.

He knows the road you have travelled.

He knows what your past looks like and He can see your future.

And still … he waits for you with arms flung open wide and a huge, goofy grin on His face.

He loves you so.

Listen carefully and you will hear Him.  He is crying out for you to turn to Him.

You wouldn’t have walked this path if some part of you wasn’t already leaning toward Him … searching for Him … straining to hear His voice.

Bring yourself to Him and sit at His feet.

… just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 

~ Romans 6:4(b)

Lay your whole history at His feet and say, “I’m sorry, Lord.  Forgive Me.”

The next feeling you will experience is His magnanimous mercy.

His everlasting love.

His astonishing joy.

You will never be the same again.

Your past will be forgotten.

You will begin to live a new life.

Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

~ Revelation 3:20

Jesus stands before you and asks the most important question you will ever hear,

“Will you follow me?”

Are you ready, dear one?

Open your heart.

Bring Him your sin.

He forgives.

Forever He loves.

(Parts of this article were originally published on January 16, 2012)

Wait Upon the Lord

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Do you ever feel like you’re in a season of hurry up and wait?  We came off New Year’s Day all full of piss and vinegar and then … wait.  It must feel as Joshua felt when he’d spent 40 years in the wilderness with Moses – got thrust into a position of leadership when Moses died, the Lord told him about how he was to defeat Jericho, led him to the banks of the Jordan with two million of his nearest and dearest, and then said … wait.  Can you just imagine Joshua’s spirit?

Did he so trust the Lord that he said immediately, “Yes, Lord,” and hunkered down and waited?  Did he kick the sand and say, “Awww gee whiz Lord,” whining like a petulant child?  Did he ever think his advance team met with foul play as he waited on the other side of the river for their return?  Or was he so focused on God that he just kept preparing … kept readying … kept waiting … knowing that when the time was right God would order him to move and he’d move?

We know the story.  We know, in hindsight, that God had to bring Rahab out of Jericho and to Himself to continue to construct Jesus’ family lineage.  Certainly there is comfort in knowing that sometimes God has us wait because He’s working His plans with someone else.  But does that really make it any easier?  Don’t we all wish we had the faith of Joshua?

A couple years ago God gave me the following verse to hang onto:

No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life.  As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.  ~ Joshua 1:5 (NIV)

What a powerful verse … three promises in one.  I can absolutely understand why God spoke these words to Joshua that day; and while I’m not going to physically lead anyone into the Promised Land or walk around a city and tear down its walls … ummmm … wait a minute.  I kinda am.

It turns out that by speaking this verse of Scripture to me, God insured that I had all I needed to keep waiting, keep my eyes focused on Him, and keep preparing.  Preparing for what?  To lead people to the Promised Land of HIM.  To tear down the walls we construct within our hearts and let His love flow through, let His light of glory shine.

Do you think I’m self-aggrandizing?  Making myself to be more important than I am?  In God’s eyes we all are.  God knows who we are, it is we who often don’t see our calling.  We are all called by Him to do His work on earth.  We were born for such a time as this.  We are all Joshua.

At times we must wait, at times we must move forward, at times we must fight, and at times we must claim for God for is already His.  His children.  But all along we must keep our eyes steadfastly on Him who is our Savior.

I love the song “Everlasting God” by Chris Tomlin and this important lyric within:

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord,

as we wait upon the Lord,

as we wait upon the Lord.

We must learn to see our time of waiting as not a punishment, or that God perhaps has somehow forgotten us, we must use our time of waiting as a time to prepare for what is to come.  To gather our strength.  Because one day God is going to tell us to move and we need to be ready to do just that.

Use your wait time wisely, my friends, so that you are ready.

In His love,

Felecia

PS:  The winner of the desk calendar is … Benjamin Nelson!  Congratulations!

PPS:  If you never have, take a gander at his blog Another Red Letter Day

Happy New Year!

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In a new year there is such expectation for the possibility that this year will be better than the last.  Never forget that with God, you don’t have to ever await a new year to get a fresh start … and contrary to popular belief, our mercies are not new every morning … our mercies, given by God, are new every moment of every day … all you need to do is ask.

May God bless you richly in every moment of this New Year …

New Year 2015 FB

The 2015 Word and a Giveaway!

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I stare at the blank screen wondering what to tell you.  I’ve been away so long it’s almost as if I’m readying for a blind date – or perhaps – waiting to receive a visit from a long-ago friend I haven’t seen in years.  Will we reconnect?  Will we pick right up where we left off?  Or will (heaven forbid!) we sit on opposite ends of the couch – casting sidelong glances, fingers nervously tapping the glass of wine in our hands, wondering when the evening will end or if we can make a break for the door without causing too much commotion.  I hope it’s not like that.  I hope, between us, it’s a quick smile and a warm hug, and we talk on and on well into the night as if we’d just seen each other yesterday.

I open my door to you and open my arms wide.  Welcome, old friend.  Welcome back to the blog.  Welcome to a brand new year of hope and determination and love and laughter.  Oh, there will be tears, and pain, and perhaps sorrow; but we have God within us, God beside us, and God covering us – and we have each other.  We will “fight back with joy”, as my friend Margaret Feinberg (@mafeinberg) says in her latest book which you’ll hear more about shortly.

For now let me bridge the gap by talking about finding “one word” to live your life by or to focus on.  “One Word” is when you adopt a word as an over-arching theme to your year.  Last year God had begun to reiterate the phrase “rivers of living water” in almost everything I read or from everyone I spoke to – about two months before the end of the year.  By the time 2014 started I’d been guided to realize that Rivers of Living Water = Holy Spirit = JOY  (I’m sorry I can’t point you to that post from last year as my hosting platform munched all my history for breakfast one day).

What I found throughout the year is that constant reliance on God brings an avalanche of joy into your life.  Yet, unlike an avalanche that will melt with the spring thaw, joy that rushes into your life does not dissipate – it continues to accumulate.  My body is breaking down at the speed of an oncoming locomotive but somehow I still have joy.  I struggle with completing the book I know God wants me to write, and while others in a similar situation might feel guilt or shame, I have joy.  I am calm.  I don’t worry.  I am jam-packed with peace.  I have chosen to look up and lean on God for e-v-e-r-y thing and have discovered nothing but … JOY.

This year it’s felt a little different.  I really didn’t even think about getting a word for 2015 until about a week ago.  I asked God for a word and several drifted through the upper recesses of my brain, but nothing stuck.  In past years the word has been pretty obvious but this year nothing shouted, “This is your word!”  That is, until this morning.  A beautiful friend gave me Daily Light (originally by Samuel Bagster and updated by Anne Graham Lotz) for Christmas and I used it this morning to begin my prayer time with Our Lord.  Afterward, my word tumbled out of my mouth during prayer:

“Lord help me to be more consistent in my writing …”

When the word “consistent” hit the early morning air of my bedroom, my heart leapt and I smiled – wide and bright and so deeply satisfied.  There you are word, I said to myself.  I think I can easily work consistency into every part of my life – time with God – writing – friendship – blogging – health matters – family matters – employment matters.  I can’t wait to see how being consistent will benefit me this year.  I can already envision a deeper walk with The Almighty, a published book (maybe two!), deeper & more meaningful friendships, and happier readers just to name a few!  I promise to keep you informed of any ground-breaking insights along the way!


This year I am giving away the very last desk calendar available from my photo studio.  If you would like some of my photography to grace your desk, just comment below with your word or a resolution for 2015 and perhaps share the blog with a friend (not necessary, but nice!).  I’ll draw a winner Sunday evening (1/4/15 after 5pm EST) and announce next Monday.  Below you’ll find a few pictures.

Good Luck!  And Happy New Year!

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