We want to pray in a way that matters. We want God to hear our prayers. And we want our prayers to help make things happen. Last week we looked at Matthew 6:6-8 NLT and discussed the first steps in learning how to pray in a way that matters. The first is to recognize that our prayer time is something to be treasured, it's a time of intimacy with God, and God rewards us for spending time talking with him. The second is to remember that God already knows what we need before we ask.  Because of this intimate relationship we have with him we don't have to explain things and we can relax and be … [Read more...]

  In my neck the woods... it's the end of the school year.  Others I know have been finished with school for a month. And still others are about to embark on their last week, plus exams. Whether you have kids or not... does the end of the school year feel like the beginning of summer? I'm not attempting to play 20 questions here... but what's summer like for you?  Is it the start of some well-earned freedom?  Is it the same-o-same-o? Or is it something else? As I was reading Psalm 19 from The Message Bible I thought... the beginning of summer is a great time to have a New Year's resolution. … [Read more...]

I have several friends going through hard times right now. One trying desperately to regain her footing after divorce, one recovering from a bad fall and brain surgery (with a setback today), another fighting a debilitating virus for 8 months with no end in sight, one struggling through the process of seeing her sister-in-law go from home to hospice, and still another dear friend in the throes of dealing with a family member battling addiction.  Tremendously hard times. My difficulties seem small in comparison. Yours may dwarf those, or possibly you are in a time of calm. When we are faced with … [Read more...]

On a scale of 1 to 10... how would you rate your week? Some weeks are really hard. If you rated your week closer to 1 on the scale would you still be able to say God is good? In the midst of the good and the bad I've been learning... Regardless of my circumstances, God is good. All the time. I want that for you.      But I trust in your unfailing love.  I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord  because he is good to me. Psalm 13:5-6 NLT What a great verse to meditate on when you're in a difficult circumstance. It's especially good if you … [Read more...]

  While on Facebook, of all places, I was prodded to change my outlook. I read a phrase that stuck with me. Forget talking about your troubles. Talking about our troubles is a bad habit for most of us.  It's what we do. So if we can't talk about our troubles...what do we do? Celebrate our joys!     I have a good friend that I chat with irregularly via email.  At this time in our lives it's the best form of communication.  It's efficient.  When we get the chance to talk on the phone....it's a looooong talk.  And we usually don't have time to do that very often. Today I … [Read more...]

  Does it seem crazy to think that we can have the same joy as Jesus? It does... but Jesus told us we will be as joyful as he is. Not could be. We will be. I have told you this so that you will be as joyful as I am, and your joy will be complete. ~ Jesus John 15:11 GW   I don't know about you... but I really would like to live a life of joy. What do you think it would look like to live a life of joy? Maybe we should start with the definition...   For one it might be to be happy all the time, singing, humming, wearing a smile continuously. For another it might be a … [Read more...]

  Lately, I've been thinking about joy. This morning I even prayed to have more joy. As I was doing so I realized that I am blessed with a beautiful life. Even if my current situation isn't what I hoped, planned, or even desired.     For some time, things have not gone my way... but isn't that true for all of us? And so today... I'm going to concentrate on walking with God. Allowing him to direct my path. Being quiet and listening to him. Because when I do... There I experience joy.  True joy. And contentment.   You direct me on a path … [Read more...]

Today I sat down to write. I knew I needed to talk about perseverance. There were lots of thoughts running around my mind... but I was unsure where to start. So I did what every good writer does when in that spot.... I went out on an errand.     When I returned home, I again got my laptop out to prepare this post. Before typing a word, I checked my email and saw an email which needed my immediate response. While there, I scanned the other items in my inbox and my eye was drawn to a weekend post which contained a touching video. I am aware this video made the rounds last year, so it … [Read more...]

This week has been a week of quiet, solitude, and reflection. Somewhere along the way, I lost my mojo. It's not that I hadn't spent significant time with God. I had. But, my soul was hungry for moments like this...     Joy Moments. If you've been visiting with me over time, you know how much I enjoy my nature walks. Those times make my heart sing.  And sing. And yesterday, as I walked along a country road and came across the music of peepers... my heart sang with great joy. Some time ago, our pastor shared how singing is God's heart language. If you're a frog … [Read more...]

  Put yourself in this story... The man whom you believed was going to liberate you from the tyranny of the Romans had just been cruelly tortured and hung on a tree to die. A few of your friends also truly believed that this man, Jesus, would rescue you. But instead, they are helping you take his dead body down from the cross to bury him in a borrowed tomb. All hope is lost. Not only was Jesus, your leader and friend, dead but surely this would turn to the worse considering all that transpired the last few days. You're consumed with hurt, grief, disappointment. To say you are devastated would … [Read more...]

A little over a week ago I went to a butterfly event at Meijer Gardens. Walking through an indoor tropical garden hoping to see a few fluttery creatures was the perfect way to spend an end-of-winter afternoon with a friend.   Butterflies are beautiful creatures, but have you ever wondered what the purpose is to their existence? We know that they feed on the nectar of flowers and similar to bees they are helpful to the pollination process of the flowers.  It isn't a pleasant thought, but as caterpillars, they provide food for creatures higher up on the food chain and to some degree as well … [Read more...]

  We talk about living with joy here at An Extraordinary Day.  All the time. But, it doesn't always happen, does it? What do you think is your number one joy stealer?     Fretting! Let's stop for a minute and think about this. If you find yourself stewing on something, fretting about it, trying to figure out how something will or won't happen, you are expending a lot of mental energy. Wasted energy. Fretting does not produce anything other than more worry. All the fretting in the world doesn't change the outcome of a problem.   Fretting is a real joy … [Read more...]

I love reading the book of Proverbs in the Bible. It's so rich with wisdom for living a good life. It's amazing how just a few sentences can open our eyes and set us on the right road.   When I was in college and interviewing for my first 'real' job, I memorized Proverbs 3:5-6 from the New American Standard Bible. Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. I remember walking in to the big interview continuously repeating the words in my mind. It gave me peace, despite the trembling knees, … [Read more...]

Have you ever wondered... If God is perfect and complete in every way....why do we praise God? Why does he need, even require, us to do that? I struggled with that concept for a long time. Because I love God and want to obey him, I praised him, but it always seemed strange to me. I didn't get it. What I did 'get' was that when I did, my outlook changed and I had a better view of life, living, and those around me. Knowing that praising produced positive things in me helped me to continue the practice. And then... I had an Ah Ha! moment. Recently in my reading I came across the wise words of two … [Read more...]

During my reading time this week, I came across a quote from a renowned preacher of the late 19th century, Charles Spurgeon. I struggled with sharing it with you for the Joy Day! post. The quote doesn't feel very joyful.  It's even a bit stern.  But, I couldn't shake myself from it.     With that in mind...let's imagine that we are sitting at a lovely table drinking our favorite fancy coffee or tea and enjoying a tasty treat. After the usual pleasantries, indulging in the delicacies from the table, and conversational catching up, I look you in the eye and say, "I think it's time we … [Read more...]

For most of my life I would wake up in the middle of the night, briefly think about the future, and the thought of an endless forever would send me into a panic attack. It was awful.  My mind just could not wrap itself around the concept of forever. Though, for the most part, I didn't have a fear of tomorrow, or next week, or even next year, that fear of the great unknown future would freak me out. Our minds are a battleground.  How we direct and control our thoughts is critical. This week I read a few experts from C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters (affiliate link).  There the demon Screwtape points out … [Read more...]

Faith is believing what we do not see, and the reward for this kind of faith is to see what we believe.   Saint Augustine   You've heard the term "blind faith."  Usually a person with blind faith is looked upon as weak or helpless.   How many times have we heard someone say, "Trust me." In the recesses of my mind, I remember my dad telling me that I could not trust anyone.  I'm not sure what life experiences my dad encountered to help him develop that cynical outlook. Fortunately my dad did not live his life that way before me.  He was a very gentle, kind, and caring man.  And I … [Read more...]