Taking Down Negativity {Give Away!}

Have you ever noticed that the most microscopic trace of negativity holds a disproportionate amount of impact?

An eye roll.

A critical thought.

A snarky remark.

Whatever form negativity takes, it does a quick work in a bad way. Negativity fizzles enthusiasm, hurts hearts, and steals joy. A negative word adversely changes the atmosphere of our home or a person’s heart.  

Worst, negativity is infectious. It goes viral faster than a video of a deployed soldier’s surprise homecoming.

I’m not sure why it’s so dang easy to be negative, or why a critical word slips between my lips with such ease, despite my intentions. But I’m determined to fight it. To do my part. And to pray for God to change my heart. Because as Luke 6:45 points out, it’s “out of the heart the mouth speaks”.

The most powerful thing we can do—that changes the very atmosphere of our hearts and squelches negativity—is to cultivate intentional gratitude. And what better time of year to prayerfully practice this than now…with Thanksgiving on the horizon?

Here are 3 simple, specific ways you can practice intentional gratitude:

1. Before your feet hit the floor each the morning, whisper a sentence of gratitude to God. Lord, thank you for Your peace. Or, Lord, thank you for your fresh new mercies this morning. Whatever you need or whatever He has already done for you, turn it into a simple prayer of thanksgiving as you swing your legs out of bed. This sets the tone for a day of gratitude.

2. Ask the Lord to help you recognize and notice everyday blessings all throughout your day. Then thank Him specifically. Have a full pantry? Thank Him. Did you enjoy that talk with your friend? Thank Him. Whether it’s a hot shower, sunshine streaming into your windows, a beautiful breeze or a car that works, notice it and express your gratitude. Make this a daily habit!

3. Thank those around you for simple gestures. Did your spouse take out the trash? Thank him. Did you child actually put their cup in the dishwasher? Thank them. Did your mailman lug a large box up your driveway? Thank him. People love to be noticed and appreciated (I sure do!), and expressing our thanks to those around us (even for small things) is a great way to encourage others while cultivating our own heart of gratitude.

This November, let’s take our gratitude efforts to the next level. As we each prayerfully cultivate intentional gratitude this month, it will become a holy habit—one that squelches negativity and changes the atmosphere of our hearts and homes. And that is something to be thankful for.

The "I'm So Thankful for YOU Giveaway"! You are the absolute best, and I truly appreciate you, my awesome readers! I so love receiving your notes of encouragement, your comments, and your emails, so I'm giving away a signed copy of From Hot Mess to Blessed. TO ENTER, leave a comment along with your email (so I can notify you if you win!). Winner will be notified via email by Friday, November 17. 

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Hope for Your Hard Times {Giveaway!}

When our lives take a sharp turn in a direction we didn’t see coming, it’s normal to not only feel like a hot mess (hello? we’re all human), but like our lives have been interrupted by forces over which we have no control. It can feel like our circumstances own us, and we are helpless victims of a tragic scene that just keeps rolling the wrong way.

The enemy wants us to feel defeated, deeply discouraged, and hopeless. But we don’t have to let that happen!

Here are three practical things you can do starting today, and they’re all FREE!

First, we must remember that God is sovereign. Always. Psalm 31:15 says “My times are in Your hands…” Because the Lord is sovereign we can be assured that God’s purposes will always prevail for us…even if it looks nothing like we imagined. He will ultimately work out His plans as we trust Him.

Second, we can pray. We must pray. Our prayers are powerful and effective (see James 5:16), and God uses our prayers to accomplish His purposes. So when the unexpected, undesired, or unwelcome rudely intrudes, we can cry out to God, knowing He always, always hears us (Psalm 116:2).

Lastly, we must ask God to gird our hearts and hold us in His supernatural peace. This happens when we choose not to focus on and worry about our circumstances, but pray, tell Him our needs, and remain grateful. God’s peace and presence make all the difference. It eases and relieves and refreshes our souls, smack in the middle of our hardest moments.

Let’s Pray Together:

Lord, when difficult circumstances hit hard, help me to face my current reality with my hand firmly gripping Yours. Help me not to entertain defeat, discouragement, or hopelessness. Help me not to wish for a life of ease. Instead, enable me, when I am tempted to quit, to believe that You are at work behind the scenes and that You will strengthen me and harden me to difficulties. I commit my current situation into Your faithful hands, Lord. I believe that my times are in Your hands. Thank you for strengthening my heart and filling me with Your supernatural peace as I choose to believe that You truly do work all things for my good. God intervene in my situation as only You can, and work all things for good, because I love you! In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

GIVEAWAY! I’m giving away TWO signed copies of my new book, “From Hot Mess to Blessed” to ONE lucky winner (perfect for you and a friend! You can do a study together!)  TO ENTER: Leave a comment that includes your email (so I can notify you if you win). Sorry, open only to residents of continental U.S. Randomly chosen winner will be notified via email by Tuesday, October 3.

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A Prayer of Hope

This week let’s pray together about hope. When our hearts are overwhelmed by our realities, hope is an anchor that prevents us from drifting into unbelief.

Hope is something we must make a diligent effort to hold on to. How do we do that? By daring to believe God’s Word, and through prayer. Hot messes need hope!

Prayer of Hope

Lord, I am grateful that the hope You offer me enables me to face and accept reality while daring to believe You for change. I don’t have to stick my head in the sand.

I don’t have to live in denial. I can face the facts yet embrace holy hope, by Your grace.

As I continue to trust You and keep my focus on You, help me continually to embrace holy hope.
I will dare to believe the promises You have whispered to my heart, God, because You are faithful and good. 

May Your plans prevail in my life, Lord. From this day forward may holy hope bubble up in my soul.

In the strong name of Jesus, Amen.

Leave a comment and I will pray for you this week.

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5 Scripture Verses for Scary Times

Glanced at the headlines recently? Of course you have.  We all have. 

And let’s face it, many, many current events aren’t exactly cause for celebration. Unsettling issues are unfolding. Are these things cause for concern? Yes. Points of prayer? Definitely yes. 

A source of fear? Well now, that’s a strong possibility, isn’t it?

Scripture is supernaturally stabilizing.

If you’re feeling shaken, unsettled, or just plain frightened by national or worldwide events, or even circumstances happening in your own home, family, or life, take courage. You are not alone. God is with you. And His Word is a very real source of comfort, encouragement, and truth during unsettling times.

Here are 5 verses to help when you are fighting fear. Write them down, stick them on a mirror, your fridge, or the lamp on your nightstand. The very moment you begin to fear, breathe them in and allow them to fill your heart with His supernatural peace. 

Even when things look bleak, we don’t have to afraid, because the Lord gives us the priceless gift of peace of mind, and heart-peace:

1. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. (John 14:27)

The good news is we don’t have to fear because God is always with us.

2. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

When bad news absorbs our focus, we lose our peace. Our focus can change everything!

3. You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! (Isaiah 26:3)

We may not feel like overcomers, but the good news is, Jesus has already overcome for us. 
When we allow this truth to infuse our hearts, our courage rises.

4. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Whatever trouble we face, we don’t have to fear because God is with us. He is our strength.

5. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear (Psalm 46:1)

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A Prayer to Calm Your Hot-Mess Emotions {Give Away!}

Isn't it weird that one minute you can be perfectly at ease, and the next moment you're facing an emotional freak-out? 

We all have them—difficult or unexpected moments when our emotions start to freak out, hijack our brains, leaving us shaking, or making us feel completely overwhelmed.

The truth is each of us face very real challenges. And it's helpful to remember we’re human, and this side of eternity our imperfect minds and emotions will sometimes be a challenge. And that can make us feel like a hot mess and a half. 

Which is where prayer comes in.

Two keys that always help me are simple and free (thank God!) The next time your emotions start to spike, take a deep breath and pray. Deep breathing calms our nervous systems, and prayer changes everything. (And pssst…a cup of chamomile tea is always a good option!)

Here is a simple prayer to get you started:

Help me. Calm my heart, calm my mind, and calm my emotions.
Jesus You are my peace. Be my peace right now, right in the middle of my emotional frazzle. Fill my mind and emotions with Your peace.
I invite You into my situation, Lord. Be here with me. Give me wisdom. Give me grace. Give me wise and encouraging words, not destructive words.
And Lord, I'm grateful that You understand my emotions. Please help me not to allow myself to be hijacked by them, but give me the ability to hold myself calm. Calm me and my emotions with Your very real presence. 
In the awesome name of Jesus, Amen.
One last thing. Below is my go-to verse when I’m on the brink. It reminds me that Jesus freely offers me His peace, and that I don’t have to allow myself to be troubled. THAT is something I'm still learning! 

Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.] (John 14:27) (AMPC)

GIVEAWAY! I'm giving away one signed copy of my brand new book, "From Hot Mess to Blessed: Hope to Propel Your Soul and the Promises that Change Everything". TO ENTER please leave a comment AND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS (so I can reach you if you win). Winner will be randomly selected and notified via email by August 28. Sorry, contest open only to continental U.S. residents.

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