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Stop Waiting for Hope at Life’s Drive-Thru Window

Hi, Cathy here.

Today, it’s my honor to introduce you to Karen “Girl” Friday. We met last year at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference and it has been a delight watching God grow her ministry ever since. Karen’s bold declarations of love for the Lord is downright inspiring. I know you’ll enjoy her guest post.

Join me in offering Karen a warm welcome!

Drive Thru

The drive-thru window of life remains understocked with real hope.

Less than a mile from my neighborhood, in opposite directions, the same fast-food restaurant provides drive-thru service. At the end of our road, we must make a decision. Do we turn right or left? To the right stands a newer version of the long-lasting business established in the 1940’s.

But the same problem exists with both locations. My son arrives home and discovers his order is wrong. Like the time he placed his order for lunch, paid and waited. Yet, found his bag filled with breakfast items.

To our dismay, it also happens to me and my husband. Now, to make certain, I check everything. I open each bag, wrapper or container. It assures I leave with what I expected…what I wanted.

The Quest for Authentic Hope

Where do we turn when the unexpected happens? When we come to the end of our road, which way do we go?

As a pastor’s wife, people come to me looking for hope. Real people in tough places. Hearts broken by tragedy or disappointment. Dreams with no pillow to lay their heads.

And I’ve been parked at life’s crossroads. ­­­­­­­­­Not sure whether to go right or left. Tired of waiting. Not certain I’ll leave with what I expected…all the items I went there to get.

So, I went in search of long-lasting hope. It needed to be rooted in something other than this world.

A Certain Hope

Hoping things turn out as we want comes natural to us. Google defines hope as, “A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”

Still, here’s the problem. Life is uncertain and continues to let us down. The only choices on the menu offer false promises. High hopes placed in people, programs, possessions, money, goals, careers, and religion.

Even if we examine and double-check each item.

We’ll always leave life’s drive-thru window without real hope.

But God’s Word offers a hope established before the world existed.

“For whatever was written in the former days was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” Romans 15:4 ESV.

“But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” Isaiah 40:31 ESV.

The New International Version translates wait as hope. “…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.”

Windows of HopeThe Windows of Heaven

God’s story fulfills the promise of hope in a person and a place.

The Messiah, Jesus Christ, came to give us what the world could not offer. His shed blood and broken body on Calvary’s cross triumphed over evil and religion. The empty tomb trumped the enemy’s intention to destroy hope forever. Because Jesus rose from the dead.

So, we wait for real hope from a Holy King. We lay our expectation and desire in His able and sovereign hands.

Prayer ushers in hope from the windows of heaven.

Trusting God with the impossible and unexplainable parts of life.

Set your hope fully on the hope-giver. One day you’ll see.

Hope was always coming and God knew.

 

Karen Friday

Karen Friday is a pastor’s wife and women’s ministry leader. She’s an award-winning writer and avid speaker who loves words and God’s Word. For over a decade, Karen has balanced the busy life of church ministry with working from her home office in marketing and business development roles. Karen earned a communications degree and has experience in a broad spectrum of business services where she is frequently referred to as Girl Friday.

A blogger, Karen “Girl” Friday engages a community every week. Hope is Among Us is an award-winning blog that expresses scriptural truths as life happens. Karen is a regular contributor for the national site, Inspire a Fire, which draws 30,000 monthly visitors. Karen has published a number of articles and devotions in both print and online media. She is currently working on her first book project. An inspirational speaker, she addresses a wide variety of audiences. Karen is passionate about mentoring and discipleship that helps followers of Christ live with authentic faith in real life. Karen and her husband Mike Friday reside in East Tennessee and have two grown children and a grandson. The entire family is fond of the expression, “TGIF: Thank God it’s Friday.” They owe Monday an apology. www.KarenGirlFriday.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FridayKaren
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karen.clarkstonfriday
Facebook Writer Page: https://www.facebook.com/karengirlfriday/

Speaking Ministry PDF 

 

 

How A Simple Arrow Can Point You in the Right Direction

An arrow pointed in the right direction

Ah, the bow and arrow. Now that both of our boys are honing their archery skills my appreciation for this form of weaponry has increased. Or maybe it actually began years ago when a pastor spoke on how our children are like arrows. How they were created to be released, not kept in the quiver. How we as parents are to release them into the care of their Creator, not hide them away for safe keeping. The message is a decade old and yet it still circles my mind like the hawks seeking their prey just outside my window.

This type of encircling is easier to understand when you consider the purposes of the different parts of the arrow. I’m sure there are deeper, more complex comparisons out there but here’s what I see when I spot a simple arrow.

orange arrow

How A Simple Arrow Can Point Us in the Right Direction:

 

Shaft // Jesus Christ

The shaft is the spine of the arrow and it is foundational. Everything else adheres to it.

John 15:5 reminds us, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” The Lord breathed temporal days into our lungs and eternal life into our soul. He is the foundation for all of life. We cling to Him like tendrils clutch to the branch and it is there we find joy, purpose, hope, and rest.

Feathers // Holy Spirit

Feathers on an arrow are also referred to as fletching. It creates wind drag. This stabilizes the arrow in flight, boosting its accuracy. It also helps to keep the back end of the arrow behind the front.

John 14:26 says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” The Spirit within us is the Keeper of all things⎯He prompts, reminds, convicts, encourages, teaches, and reveals. He offers stability as we stay in step with Him through obedience. And much like the feather on the tail-end of an arrow, the Holy Spirit is quick to reveal when we get out of the “let’s follow-the-Leader line”.

Nock // Community

This small plastic groove on the rear end of the arrow holds the arrow in place on the string until its power is released.

When I notice the nock of an arrow I think of fellow believers. In biblical community, there is power released, wouldn’t you agree? You can feel it⎯this synergy that we share in Him.

Arrowhead // Our Purpose

An arrowhead is the point of an arrow and there are various types. Each with a different purpose and advantage.

Sound familiar? Your arrow may fly farther than mine and that’s okay. In fact, it’s glorious! You are fulfilling your God-given purpose and I am fulfilling mine. Sometimes the Archer angles His bow at a 45-degree angle and at other times, 30-degrees. We trust and rest in knowing He never misses His target for our lives.

Arrow Stone

You may have read this post about the recent Valentine Tea I hosted for my critique group. One of their take-home gifts was this arrow-etched stone. While carefully placing each stone in my shopping cart, I thought of God and the master Archer that He is, gently pulling us from His omniscient quiver and releasing us into a particular sphere of influence. One of His making. Doors of opportunity will open, and some will slam shut. Nevertheless, the Archer’s aim is steady and the arrowhead, weighted in purpose.

Yes, there will be days when we feel more like the target rather than a weapon of truth in God’s quiver but when this happens, we need only consider the simple arrow and how it points us in the right direction: Jesus/Truth  // Power of the Holy Spirit // Biblical Community // Rest

Is there a particular “part” of the arrow that brings you assurance in the midst of your current circumstances? Is there some way I can pray for you today? I would count it a privilege if you would like to share in the comment section or message me via Facebook.

10 {Meaningful} Valentine Gifts Money Can’t Buy

Gifts Money Can't Buy

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, it’s the perfect time to gift those you love with something far more meaningful than flowers or candy. Or books. Wait, what?

No doubt the Beatles were onto something with the lyrics “Can’t Buy Me Love”. Love⎯real love⎯cannot be purchased or persuaded. This kind of love cannot be bound by a date circled in red on our daily calendar. It deserves to be wooed year-round and is not limited to spouses. The ideas below can also be gifted to others, including singles and widows in your life who could use a little extra love this Valentine’s Day.

So here are ten no-bow-required ideas for Valentine’s  Any Day.

Priceless Valentine Day Gifts

TEN PRICELESS GIFTS TO GIVE ANOTHER
A Road Trip

Okay, so there’s gas money involved but you get the idea. Take your spouse to a place nearby that holds a special meaning for you both. For us, it’s Applebees and we still celebrate our first date in 1990 by eating dinner there every January 6th. Don’t have such a place? It’s time you create one. Or visit the place where you gave your life to Christ. Once in a blue moon, I still drive by the brick duplex where my condemnation kneeled in the presence of unconditional love.

A Bloody Lip

The gift is biting your lip, not bloodying the lip of another.  One of the best gifts we can give to another is to speak less and listen more. {At least that’s what I’ve been told *wink*}. Seriously, there are times I have to pray to be more aware of what I’m blurting out – like in the car. I’m not a great passenger. Most of us know what pushes the buttons of those closest to us and it’s our responsibility to not only be aware of those buttons but to also be proactive in promoting peace. Even if it means biting your lip once in awhile.

A Skill

Are you a whiz at saving money at the grocery store? Offer these skills to a new wife or mom trying to make ends meet. Mad skills in the kitchen? Offer your help to a new college grad setting up their own place. Like to clean? {You are my hero} Offer a final clean up job for someone moving. Like to piddle with cars? A single mom would love your help. The list goes on.

Forgiveness

People who have trouble forgiving others have yet to grasp the depth of their own sin. There it is. It probably hurts as much to read that statement as it was to write it. But the truth is when I struggle to forgive I need only look in the mirror to be reminded of how much God has forgiven me. And the crusty layer of bitterness attempting to form around my heart is divinely pummeled to pieces. Forgiveness is not only a gift we give to others. It’s also one we give to ourselves.

A Sticky Note

Or a dozen. Nothing says “I love you” like sticky notes proclaiming the specific reasons you {and/or God} love another plastered all over the house. Add a Hershey’s kiss to each one? Boom!

A Prayer

I would rather the prayers of one person who I’m confident will pray than ten dozen people promising to pray. Follow up a time of prayer for a person with a note letting them know how you prayed specifically on their behalf. Or if you’re with the person, pray with them on the spot.

Serve

This is intended to be a tad different from sharing a skill in that you don’t require any skills to simply serve someone else. Deliver a meal. Serve a meal. Welcome someone new at church. Babysit for a single mom. Cut grass for the elderly person down the street. Visit a nursing home. Again, the list goes on.

Your Time

It’s our most precious commodity so to give it away to another is a gift no bow can wrap itself around. Take a walk together, plan a hike, go out for coffee even though you have a Keurig at home (no distractions). Sit around a campfire with a marshmallow in hand (along with a Hershey bar…and graham cracker, of course). Or set aside a specific time each week with the sole purpose of catching up with one another.

Write A Poem

Yes, a poem. You don’t have to be Mary Oliver or Robert Frost to pen your feelings in a melodic way. Need help getting started? Here’s a link on how to write a poem for Valentines Day.

Write A Love Letter

If writing poetry intimidates you, turn to a letter. Spilling your heart onto the pages are priceless gifts that are sure to be tucked away for further reading in the future. Could it possibly serve as a tangible reminder for the generations that may one day plunder through their family’s possessions? We never know. I’ve discovered priceless letters to loved ones in my family homes and they are treasured.

Now let’s go love on others with the indescribable love of Christ!

Do you have another idea to add? Or is there one above you plan to try this year? Please share in the comment section.

 

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Re-Gifting the Fragrance of Forgiveness

The fragrance of forgiveness

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” -Mark Twain

Fragrances during the Christmas season can evoke a mix of emotions, even unexpected ones. One whiff of vintage vinyl and I become ten years old all over again, upstairs in my grandmother’s house where we played Johnny Mathis and Bing Crosby. Or the scent of firewood freshly split for the woodburning fireplace transporting me back to a house filled with love, laughter, and impromptu family concerts in the den.

The sense of smell is a powerful sensory.

In fact, it’s the most sensitive of the whole bunch. Perhaps this is why Mark Twain’s quote catches my heart every time. Sometimes it’s my heel that tramples on another. And then there are times when I must be the one to release the fragrance of forgiveness because of the bruised and imprinted heel marks left on my own life. Just as the violet doesn’t decide as to whether or not it should forgive the heel that stepped upon it, neither do I.

 

For how could I, a forgiven soul through the fragrance of Christ, even consider withholding it from another?

 

Christmas cookiesThere seems to be a spot divinely embedded in the heart that softens at Christmas, offering unique opportunities to forgive even the smallest of offenses. People attend a Christmas Eve services, send cards, bake cookies, visit neighbors and nursing homes, etc. The list goes on!

 

Below are a few ideas on ways we can practice the art of re-gifting the fragrance of forgiveness this year:

 

  • Re-gifting the fragrance of forgiveness happens when we first forgive ourselves. Much like the gift of grace, we cannot give to others what we ourselves do not possess. If we are in Christ, we do possess forgiveness⎯but embracing it for ourselves often proves to be more difficult than offering it to others. {Or at least that’s what I’ve found to be true in my own life.} Poor choices I made years ago still quicken tears in my eyes more often that most know, but at the core of my sadness, I know that God, through Christ, has forgiven me for those past sins. It’s only because of my confidence in Christ that I can move forward in joy. And you can, too. Need a little reminder today of God’s gift of forgiveness toward you? Savor His words found in 1 John 1:9, Isaiah 43:25,26, Acts 3:19, Isaiah 1:18, etc.
  • Re-gifting the fragrance of forgiveness happens through simple, thoughtful gifts. If you know that you’ve offended or hurt someone in your circle of life, take a few moments to write a note and attach it to a plate of cookies. Leave it on their doorstep and let your written words open the door to future conversations.
  • Re-gifting the fragrance of forgiveness happens when you forgive someone else before they even ask for it. This goes beyond the realm of what’s expected but isn’t that what Jesus did at every turn? You can forgive them quietly in your heart or by extending your forgiveness through a card or letter. Not sure where to begin? Dayspring offers biblical greeting cards that will help get you started. Sometimes that’s all we need, right? If the person in need of forgiveness has passed, write a letter to him/her. Then throw it away or burn it, symbolizing the release that’s taken place within.

This Christmas, and every day, may we be the fragrance of Christ through the way we love, serve, and forgive others. When others see, hear, and rub shoulders with us, may they catch a whiff of the costliest, most extravagant fragrance of all.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us triumphantly in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” 2 Corinthians 2:14

Who needs Chanel Coco Noir Eau de Parfum under the tree when the sweetest fragrance of all lies within us?

Is there a particular scent that evokes a past memory for you at Christmastime? Please share!

 

Week 1: Re-gifting the Gift of Grace

This is My Story. What’s Yours?

blogmystoryMy story. // Fragmented family. // Young bride. // Two boys born here on earth, one in heaven. // Divorced. Twice. Single mom. // Came face-to-face with Jesus in a duplex. // Returned to church. My grandmother’s church. A New Beginning’s Class. // Met my husband of 25+ years. // Gained two God-glorifying daughter-in-laws. // Chosen to be the grammy to four future foes of the enemy. // Surrounded by fellow warriors, aka, friends. // Praying. // Hoping. // Watching. // Believing. // The beginning. // The end. // The in-between.

 

blogmysongA new song. Psalm 40.3 // Unto God. // My Rescuer. // My Redeemer. // My shame-bearer. // My Conquerer. // My Joy. // My Grantor of Grace. Abundant. Fresh. Mercy. // Singing for my Pappa God. // My forever song.

 

blogalldaylongInhaling. // Working. // Playing. // In Traffic. // In Target. // Daydreaming. // Praying. // Loving. // Serving. // Coffee. // What is Said. // What Remains Unspoken. // Exhaling.

-Blessed Assurance, Frances J. Crosby, 1873.

This is a snapshot of my story. What’s one or two words that you would insert below one of the above verses to describe yours? 

 

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