Encouragement

Where the Wildflowers Danced

It was dusk and I was driving through the Midwestern country roads on my way home from babysitting for some friends. Peter Hollens’ album of folk songs played softly in my car, and the wind rushed through the open windows blowing my hair all around.

But my heart was heavy.

As I wound out of one county and into another, I saw to my right a vast field and it’s emptiness seemed to shout an invitation to come and simply be still beside it. There was not a building, fence, or human in sight. Just a field with trees in the distance and the sun dipping down behind them as wildflowers danced in the breeze.

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Encouragement

When Our Own Understanding Fails

It doesn’t make sense.

I don’t understand why people kill other people out of anger. I don’t understand why an invisible virus can both take and destroy lives with the fierceness of a great army. I don’t understand why people we love get cancer. I don’t understand why the dearest of friends are pitted against each other with the simple click of a share button. I don’t understand why sometimes doing the right thing can cost so much. I don’t understand how all of this can still be used for our good and God’s glory.

But I wanted to understand. I needed to understand.

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Encouragement

When He Becomes All Our Hope & Stay

Panic attacks, nightmares, and anxieties surrounding conflict or change have long been large parts of my life. I remember when I was little, I would dream that my Dad would be mortally wounded by an escaped evil warrior with an undetectable poison disguised as a Reese’s cup while traveling. (I’d like to take this moment and thank my vivid and rather eccentric imagination for that.) I would wake up sweating and seek to find comfort in the normalcy of life. My little brother would be sleeping beside me, his steady breath and toddler hands clutching his blue blankie brought me comfort.

Everything is okay. Dad is okay, because life is still the same. Evil warriors with Reese’s poison aren’t real.

I’d roll over and go back to sleep, comforted by steadiness that was found externally when internally I was overcome with a dreadful sense of chaos and confusion.

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Encouragement

Hope for Broken Hearts & Pandemics

Life is short, it’s true. But boy, it can be hard sometimes. We are living in strange and confusing times. Universities are closing, borders are locking down, and everyone seems to have the answer to all questions regarding the pandemic. The confusing part is that everyone’s answers are different and while we all think we’re experts, the truth is that none of us are. We haven’t ever dealt with something like this, and can’t pretend that we have. What we can do is the same thing we ought to be doing in any uncertainty or trial: praise God and make Him known among the nations.

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Encouragement

He’s Still Enough

It’s the warmest winter in our small town since the 80’s and my southern heart is not complaining. There is no snow on the ground, no ice scrapers being pulled out when we leave the house, and the sun is shining brightly. The weather outdoors mirrors that inside of me. Warm, bright, and hopeful.

All around the world, people seem to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s in a sense of reflection. It makes sense that as another year closes and is slid onto the shelves of memory that we take one last moment to flip back through it’s pages and remember with bittersweet fondness the stories that ended and the ones that have just begun. That is just what I have sat down to do.

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Encouragement

A Baby Sleeping & Fearless Rest

There is something incredibly natural and soothing about a baby sleeping peacefully in the arms of the one caring for him, and this morning something very convicting.

He does not raise his head to question whether my grip is strong enough to hold him if he squirms. He does not hold onto me as if I’m going to let go of him. He does not keep his eyes open to see what dangers or dilemmas may creep up on him as he sleeps.

He closes his eyes.
He relaxes his body.
He looks into my eyes before he closes his one final time with a look not born of question, but of trust.

And then he rests in my arms.

Yet here I am, as he sleeps peacefully in my grasp, internally struggling and fighting, questioning and doubting, keeping my eyes stretched open on the lookout for potential sorrow or danger, while the Father holds me in His arms.

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Encouragement

He Holds Us Fast

The morning light was still hours away from creeping through our windows yesterday morning when I woke up and stumbled downstairs to the coffee pot at five o’clock. Rubbing my eyes thoroughly and rummaging through the fridge to find the creamer helped wake me up and by the time I curled up in my usual spot on the couch with my coffee, Bible, and journal, I was well awake and alert. It was the day before my birthday and just as I always do, I read through the last year of my journal.

Every year before it’s been a very enjoyable thing to do. Memories that made me smile, ones that made me laugh, and always a few that brought on a cringe. But this year was different. This year was hard to read through.

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Encouragement

When Feeble Senses Blind

Our backyard is full of trees that seem to burst with life and greenery in the summertime. There is a little cove in the back right corner where the branches seem to envelop two teal lawn chairs and when you sit up there, watching the sun fade behind the house, it’s pure magic. The squirrels and birds dance around in the mornings, often fighting over the many bird feeders provided for their pleasure. It’s a display of breathtaking ordinary beauty, and it’s dying now.

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Fiction Reviews · The Top Shelf: YA or Adult

{Book Review} All Manner of Things

“I know that. And I want you to have a wonderful time.” She sighed. “I just want your life to be easy.”

I opened both my eyes to see her digging through her makeup case, her lips pushed together tightly.

“Who said that life was supposed to be easy?” I asked.

“All Manner of Things” by Susie Finkbeiner

About the book…

Annie Jacobson’s father left years ago, and now duty calls her brother Mike to leave as well, but the circumstances are entirely different, she keeps reminding herself. Her Dad chose to leave. Her brother was called to leave. One did it for himself. The other did it for everyone else. When tragedy hits the Jacobson home during Vietnam, Annie, her mother, and younger brother Joel, are forced to face the tragedies and hurt of the past in order to unite their family in the face of suffering. They learn that their own strength is not enough, they need the strength of the One true Healer.

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