When Exhaustion Feels Like Hopelessness

If you’ve felt the heaviness of exhaustion pull upon your body,

And felt depletion so burdening it began to speak into your heart…

If exhaustion has brought such heaviness to your eyes that you cannot lift them up to see the glow of hope,

And it has blurred images of pain into realities of despair…

If you’ve felt bruised by sorrow and feel tirelessly tired,

Please let me share this light with you:

Exhaustion and hopeless can feel strikingly similar when severe.

Oh, what a freeing truth this was for me; I hope it will be as freeing for you.

When exhaustion weighs so heavily that you feel it speak louder than your hope,

Please listen. Not to the despair, but to your body as it confides its aches and pains with you.

Please hear your body as it tells you it cannot take anymore.

It’s time for rest.

Rest well, sweet friend. Let sleep replenish you; let rest revive you.

Remember despair comes as an stowaway,

Don’t let your exhaustion be its host.

For weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning {Psalm 30:5)

Rest revives as God redeems.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” ~Matthew 11:28-30

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A Tiny Dose of Great Faith

Hello all! It’s so nice to meet you here this rainy Monday. I have been struggling a bit over this last week as I caught a virus on top of my regular illness. This bug is making it a little more difficult than usual for me to get through the brain fog (so much so that I almost typed “brain dog”. That’s a new one!) So this week I am going to simply share a quote with you that I came across this week. I took a peak inside a book that I heard of from a woman working in human trafficking abolition and was touched by the sweet introduction written to reflect on important words like mentoring, faith, grace, and power. In the area of faith, this was tucked within their definition:

Faith is our assurance that there is a Divine plan of infinite love at work even in the most challenging moments, and that we are a part of that plan. Faith gives us the confidence to move ahead with vast visions in the face of enormous odds; it is an invitation to work in active partnership with the Divine in service of a better world. ~ Women, Spirituality, and Transformative Leadership

What sweet truth for our hearts today. Our faith in Christ is our substance of a relationship with Him that will wrap us in love and lead us in grace through our challenges, despite the enormous odds, and allow Him to use this for a greater good. Let’s rest in that truth today 🙂

{P.S. If you missed it, I added an extra post about fair-trade and made in the USA Christmas shopping last week! You can view it by clicking here or simply visiting my blog’s home page}

A Fair Trade / Made in the USA Christmas Gift Guide with Plenty of Ideas :)

I decided to sneak another post in this week in the spirit of the season 🙂 I’ve been thinking of some ideas for holiday-themed posts and have been so excited by a few that I just can’t wait to share with you! Since so many of us have started our Christmas shopping, I feel it’s the perfect time to talk about shopping fair-trade and American made. While a little challenging at times, it’s so well worth it. It’s a small way to make a big difference right where you are. Human trafficking is a cause so deeply important to me. The more I learn about it, and hear the stories of those effected, the more drawn I feel to give my heart to this cause in every way I can. One way that I found helpful is by being conscious of the origin of products. This sounds simple, but it can be a challenge in a day and age where so many items are produced overseas in dire working conditions. Years ago, I made the decision to eliminate any products I used that were tested on animals, and replace them with cruelty-free alternatives. PETA uses the term “caring consumer” and advocates cruelty-free products, and it’s stuck with me ever since. It’s so moving to imagine what graceful things would unfold if we were more caring consumers, and this is so true not only for animal rights, but for human rights, too. It can be a little difficult to find products made in the USA or fair-trade approved, but with a little time and patience (and even a little perseverance!), we can do it. This is a great way for you to make a difference no matter how ill you are. You can do it right from home, on your computer, in your bed or on the couch. It’s simple and effective, which are a great pair on an energy-budget 🙂

I made a little gift guide of products that were either made in the USA or are fair trade. Since I know how difficult it can be to find great products that are fair trade right off the bat, I thought it would be helpful to share these finds. Everything on this list is under $50, to make sure you get a great deal. The skincare products and tea are also natural, so they should not irritate chemical sensitivities 🙂 You can view each item by clicking the title beneath each picture. I linked them all so you could find them easily. So please, feel welcome to take a peak. I hope you find something for a loved one or maybe even something little to treat yourself with. Let me know what your favorite items are, and feel free to share any of your own finds! I’d love to hear from you 🙂

(As a small disclaimer, please keep in mind that I’m not advertising these items for personal gain or by request of these companies. It’s just for fun. Thank you!)

Sweet and Sentimental:

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Lisa Leonard Designs – Personalized Christmas Cottage Ornament – $24

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Lisa Leonard Designs – Connected Necklace – $42

{I discovered Lisa Leonard Designs through the website Incourage, and I’m so thankful that I did. Lisa is a jewelry designer that makes lovely and unique jewelry right here in the USA. She also has a fair-trade line. While some items can be a little pricy, you can receive 15% off by signing up to her mailing list, and she sends wonderful deals in her emails all the time! Certainly worth a look.}

Apparel and Swimwear:

For Her

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Modcloth – Seemingly Sew Top in Navy – $27.99

{I sure was amazed by how many items come up by searching “made in USA” on Modcloth. I think you would be, too! Pages and pages of clothing and accessories popped up upon my search. It’s definitely worth taking a peak at 🙂 }

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Fair Indigo – Ethos Paris Organic Pleated Front Fair Trade Dress – $49.99

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Fair Indigo – Pima Cotton Dress – $39.99

{Fair Indigo is a shop that sells fair trade, made in the USA, and environmentally friendly items. A great shop to look around!}

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Rey Swimwear – Holly Swim Top with Removable Cap-Sleeves – $49.99

{I’m sure many of you have seen Jessica Rey’s video, “The Evolution of the Swimsuit”. Rey Swimwear is Jessica’s line of cute, modest, and made in the USA swimsuits. What makes them even more charming is that she names the suits after characters that Audrey Hepburn played. I find that so sweet. This one is named after Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I’m not sure if you can see it in this image, but this top has an adorable polka dot trim.}

For Him:

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All American Clothing – T-Shirt with Pocket – $10.99

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All American Clothing – Pull-Over Sweatshirt – $39.99

{All American Clothing is just what it sounds like — a store of all American made clothing!}

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PrAna Men’s Swim Shorts – $40.80

{PrAna is more of an active-wear store with a heart for yoga. If this is your style, you’ll love taking a peak around!}

Jewelry and Accessories:

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White Jasmine Earrings – $29.99

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Novica – Paisley Shoulder Bag – $24.99

{Novica is a shop that sells artisan made products. This site is filled with such lovely trinkets from jewelry to home goods to clothing to candles to decor and everything in between.}

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Fair Indigo – Imagine Jewelry Suga Drops – $25.90

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Dogeared – Sterling Silver Small Heart Earrings – $36

{Dogeared sells made in the USA jewelry. You can also find some of their items at Sevenly}

Yoga and Sports:

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Life Factory Glass Bottle – $22.99

{Life Factory makes BPA/BPS-free and phthalate-free glass water bottles that are manufactured in the USA and Europe. These are a great replacement for plastic water bottles that can be filled with harmful toxins. There are many sizes and colors available for men, women, children, and babies.}

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PrAna MikAyla Top – Poppy Floral – $33

{PrAna is a yoga and fitness company that is very conscious about the origin of their products and who manufactures it. I’ve seen “made in the USA” stamped on every purchase so far, and they do have a Fair Trade Collection.}

Beauty and Skincare:

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100% Pure Mint White Tea Skin Care Gift Set – $35

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100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Lip Glaze – $15 (Completely dye free! These are colored with fruit pigments. Very neat.)

{100% Pure is brimming with natural, made in the USA skincare, body care, and make up. They are truly wonderful.}

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Hurraw! Balm Vanilla Bean Lip Balm – $3.79 (Also available in many other flavors!)

{Hurraw! Balm makes sweet little lip balms with natural, fair trade ingredients right here in the USA. They’re also a beautifully generous and cheerful company that has been unforgettably kind to me.}

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Zoya Nail Polishes – $8-9

{Zoya makes just about every color of nail polish imaginable, and not only color, but every shade, transparency, matte, and sparkle, too! These polishes are toluene, formaldehyde, and DBP free and made in the USA.}

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Pacifica Hawaiian Ruby Guava Perfume Roll On – $9.60

{Pacifica makes body soap, lotion, perfume, skincare, make-up, candles, and reed diffusers. They have some delicious scents!}

Notebooks:

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Rifle Paper Co. – Vintage Blossom Notebook Set – $14

{Rifle Paper Co. makes beautiful cards, stationary, notebooks, prints, and other lovely little things in the USA.}

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Night Owl Paper Goods – Peony Springs Jotter – $8

{Night Owl Paper Goods makes cards, notebooks, and even pencils in the USA.}

Tea:

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Republic of Tea – Be Well Red Tea – Get Gorgeous: Tea for Clear Skin: $4.50-10.50

{Be Well Red Teas are a collection of healthy teas. My favorites are Get Gorgeous (for skin), Get Probiotic (for digestive health), and Get Clean (for detox)}

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Tea Forte – Fair-Trade Lychee Coconut Tea – $6-15

{Tea Forte has many delicious fair trade teas! Just search “fair trade” on their website.}

Candles and Home-Good:

Good news! Yankee Candle makes their candles in the USA 🙂

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Pacifica Pillar Candles (shown in medium sized Indian Coconut Nectar) – $8-22

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Novica – Lotus Ode Ceramic Jar – $35.99

The Liebster Award

I was graced with the sweet surprise of being nominated for an award here on WordPress. Ignite Truth has nominated me for a favorite blog award, and just the thought of someone viewing my blog so kindly is a true gift all of its own. What a treasure! Thank you so much, Ted!

The Liebster Award, or “the favorite blog award”, is an internet-based award that is given to bloggers by other bloggers. In Germany, the word “liebster” has the same meaning as “favorite, beloved, or dearest.” This award is primarily given to blogs that have less than 200 followers. That way, it helps the blogger with being more known to the world as well as giving the blogger the opportunity to learn about more amazing bloggers.

Here are the questions I was asked:

1. What motivated you to start writing?

My motivation to write lies in my love for God, my love for people, and my love for words. I believe there is much power in words, especially to relate and encourage both the reader and the writer. It’s therapeutic and artistic all at once! What a gift!

2. Are you working on writing any books, if so what about?

I’d love to write a book someday! That is such an exciting hope and dream. But as of right now, I am not working on one.

3. If you could travel to any place in the world, where would it be and why?

When I am well enough, I’d like to travel to China or a neighboring Asian country. I value the beauty of the country and people, but also feel drawn to them for service work, especially in human trafficking. It’s also one of my most treasured dreams to a adopt a child someday, and Asia is on my heart for that.

4. If you could write for any magazine which would it be or would you start from scratch?

I’d like to write for an inspirational magazine or a health magazine, but I also wouldn’t mind creating one that encompasses both those topics with the help of some wonderful writers 🙂

5. When life is rough what do you do to find some peace in the storm?

I spend time with Jesus, sharing my grief and accepting His loving kindness. Spending time reading my Bible brings comfort and healing to my every ache and pain in this life. I also find peace and comfort in spending time with family and friends, having heart to heart talks, and spending time out nature, and helping others. I also find tiny treasures like inspirational books, cozy clothes and blankets, and warm tea soothing. There is so much good to focus on. Gratitude is key.

6. Who would you most like to meet, past or present?

This is a tough one! There are so many wonderful people I’d love to meet. I’d like to meet Mary Magdalene most of all. It would be so incredible to hear her stories of Jesus, since she loved Him and experienced His grace so profoundly.

7. Who do you admire in today’s world?

I admire those who love, believe, hope, and endure in the face of despair. People who allow pain to deepen their compassion, and darkness to brighten their inner light, and facing trials to deepen their character and fuel their faith. I especially admire those who use their lives to love and serve others, starting a ripple effect. The perfect example of this kind of person is my dear friend Kathryn, God bless her 🙂

8. If you could change one thing in the world, other than world peace and hunger, what would it be?

I’d like all the world to know Christ personally and have an open heart to His grace and the beauty of His teachings.

9. Sunsets or sunrises and why?

Both are lovely, but I think there’s a special peace to ending your day with a sunset. I like to reflect, and think sunsets are perfect for that.

10. Were you ever told that you could not achieve a certain goal and did it anyway?

I don’t think I was ever audibly told that, but my illness likes to tell me that I can’t achieve things every day, and with God, faith, and creativity, I still do 🙂

Here are my nominees for the reward:

First, I’d like to renominate Ted at Ignite Truth, and my sweet friend Carly at All For Him. Both of these bloggers write about Christ in the midst of trials with differing illnesses, and I’m inspired by both of their faithful writing. For the remaining places, I nominate:

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My CFS Life

We Are Gospel Girls

Chronic Illness Pain Daily Devotionals

A Univeral Love

1 Timothy 4:12

Finding My Inner Courage

Someone’s Idea of Luxury

Congratulations! You are all such wonderful writers and I am truly inspired by your faith, authenticity, and openness. You are truly generous. You do not have to accept this award, but please accept the acknowledgement of your great work. If you’d like to be removed, please let me know and I will kindly take you off. Here is a guide on accepting your award!

Here are my questions for you:

1. Is there a specific cause or ministry you feel passionately drawn to? If so, what is it, and why?

2. What is your favorite book? (You are also most welcome to share your favorite quote from that book!)

3. If you could share only once piece of advice and encouragement with aching hearts in the world today, what would it be?

4. How would you describe the person dearest to you?

5. What is your favorite season?

6. Which year (or season) of your life has had the deepest impact on you as a person?

7. What traits do you admire most in others?

8. Who inspires you?

9. What do you feel especially interested in? Whether for personal interest, studies, or hobbies.

10. What is one of the most valuable lessons your illness has taught you? (If you are not chronically ill, what is one of the most valuable lessons a personal struggle has taught you?)

You are also more than welcome to answer these questions if you are a reader who is not on the list! I’d love to hear your answers 🙂

When You Feel You’ve Exhausted The Search of a Cure

Have you ever been graced with a sweet moment of companionship within a Bible story? A moment where the story relates to you so deeply you feel as if God was speaking to you through it? It’s such a lovely kind of moment. A sense of awe wraps your heart as your souls relaxes into the peace of His presence. A few weeks ago, I had one of those moments. Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell the tale, but Mark shares a few special details that melted my heart. Let me share:

A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. (Mark 5:25-29)

As the story continues, Jesus turns around in the crowd in search of the woman. When they meet, he tells her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

Do you ever feel like this woman? Going from doctor to doctor, trying medicine after medicine and remedy after remedy, trying diets and herbs and supplements, traveling to specialists, having lists of tests, but never finding a cure? I find this story deeply encouraging for a few reasons and I hope you will, too. This woman is certainly an inspirational testament of faith, as she has suffered for many years yet still kept hopeful and faithful, even among disappointments. But another beautiful thing is that God’s love is so transforming that it doesn’t matter how complicated or hopeless our diseases seem this side of heaven, He can cure each of them instantly. He didn’t give this woman a form to fill out about her symptoms and ask her about her diagnosis. He sure didn’t need to do that! She believed, He loved, and healing came at once. It certainly doesn’t mean we should stop trying our treatments, because surely He can use those for His good, too! But it does mean that even if we try and try and nothing seems to help, it’s never hopeless, for He will come again and all pain and sorrow will fall away. So we take our supplements and try our treatments and see our doctors and trust that healing can come in any way, but we know that even if it takes longer than we expected, we’re drawing nearer and nearer each and every day.

Art in the Heart

Hello dear readers,

It has been such a sweet gift to connect with you over these last few months. I am so heart-warmed by this opportunity to share with you, and so thankful to get to know many of you throughout this time. Unfortunately, writing every week is beginning to be a bit too exhausting for my current state of health, so I am going to have to space things out just a bit longer. Will you join me every other Monday afternoon instead? I look forward to seeing you then 🙂

On this note {the note of having to set energy limits} I’d like to share some wise words with you that the dear Holley Gerth shared with me. They have been a treasure for me, and I hope they become the same for you. She said:

When you’re not writing or talking, you’re still actually in the writing process because you’re thinking and listening with your heart. So that time is really valuable.

It took me a long time to realize that when I’m putting words on paper it’s only one little piece of being a writer. Most of it happens quietly in my heart. So remind yourself that in the times when you can’t produce anything you’re still being very productive.

Is there a way this little quote is true for you today? Maybe there is some sort of art, some sort of purpose, some sort of dream in your heart that is growing and developing, even if you don’t always feel physically well enough to work on it. The beauty of growth and of art is simply that; it is honest and existent even in restful moments because it isn’t only achieved through manual labor. Sometimes attention, contemplation, imagination, and ideas are equally powerful (and certainly always equally beautiful). They lead us to places we couldn’t see or touch or even dream of otherwise. They help us reflect, release, and expand. Rest in this today, sweet friend, and I will do the same.

…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 1:6

What if the true artistic work is being fully ourselves in the presence of others?

What if the book, the painting, the meal, the presentation were all simply evidence of a deeper art happening within the soul of an artist?

Art is what happens when you dare to be who you really are. ~Emily Freeman

A Sprinkle of Quotes to Inspire You Today

  • Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. ~Nido Qubein
  • Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. ~John Wooden
  • If Jesus heals instantly, praise Him. If Jesus heals gradually, trust Him. When Jesus heals ultimately, you will understand. ~Max Lucado
  • Don’t deny the diagnosis. Try to defy the verdict. ~Norman Cousins
  • When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow. ~Shauna Niequist
  • But here’s what I do know: even though you feel forgotten, you are not. Even though you feel broken, redemption is waiting. And even though you feel trapped, someday, you will be loosed from your chains. You deserve better, and you were made to love and be loved. ~Lauren | TWLOHA
  • Dear one, life is hard. Opposition is huge. Circumstances will inevitably happen in all our lives that will defy all discipline, determination, and conviction. Love keeps burning when everything else disintegrates in an ashen heap. Pray for this one thing more than you pray for your next breath. I am convinced love is everything. ~Beth Moore, The Beloved Disciple
  • True Recovery – God is coming. He has not abandoned us, and he never will. Yes, the pain of life is sometimes too intense to be borne. But when from that place we cry out to Jesus to save us, the heavens rejoice, the demons tremble in defeat, and the Holy Spirit who is closer than our skin transforms us. Jesus is inviting us to recover those parts of ourselves we have tried to hide or lop off in hopes of being more acceptable. God wants us to love him with all of our hearts. God has purchased all our freedom with his blood. Including the portions of our personalities we would like to change, the dreams long buried, and the wounds we have ignored. They are being kissed awake by the Holy Spirit. Come alive, my Beloved. Awaken. Remember. Jesus has come to heal us and restore us to himself, to others, and even to ourselves. ~Brooke Boon
  • So let your heart get quiet today. Breath deep and know you are where you’re supposed to be. You don’t have to validate your existence or your importance. God has already done so. And it’s in the quiet that you can best hear him say what your heart truly longs for most, what no other words or dream or accomplishment can ever replace… “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness! — Jesus {Matt. 25:21}” ~Holley Gerth

When You Need A Little Courage to Share Your Struggles

I hope this week you are touched by the freedom of being honest about your struggles,

And feel the value in sharing your heart and all its beauty, vulnerability, and authenticity.

I hope your openness is met with genuine comfort, support, and acceptance from those dearest to you,

And you are offered listening ears and open arms and that your heart is greeted with the soft but powerful whisper,

“Your story is significant.”

I hope that whisper casts a ripple effect that reaches each part of your being, refreshing it with the truth of your worth.

I hope you feel no shame in your pain,

But feel the triumph of grace overwhelm even the shadowiest valleys of your soul.

For you may walk through the valley with no fear of danger, for He is with you.

I hope you find relief from the burden you’re carrying, and feel how honesty alleviates suffering.

Sometimes all it takes is a listening ear.

I pray we find the courage to be open, and the grace to meet others with the same compassion we wish for in return.

“For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones.” ~Isaiah 49:13

When You Feel Lonely

As September unfolds and brings a new season, and the chill of Autumn begins to touch our towns,

I hope you find yourself warmed by the sweet embrace of loving company.

And if your days feel cold with loneliness and isolation, I pray that you will nestle into hope.

I hope you find a moment of courage to lift your eyes and your heart just a little higher, in order that you may see the loving heart of our Lord, outstretched for you.

I hope you’re reminded that our lonely times aren’t really barrenempty, untouched times but pruned ones.

I hope you’re reminded that there is a coming Love more abundant than any we can imagine,

A Home where He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4).

If we can lift our eyes and our hearts a little higher than our hurts, even for just a moment, and look into the face of our Savior, we can trust He will comfort us with His mercy and teach us of His harvest.

Our gracious Savior is with us, Our God who places the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6).

I pray you will let Him draw near and whisper healing truth into your aching heart.

There’s so much joy ahead, friends. There’s so much joy around.

I hope this Fall season leaves you with little reminders of how all seasons will be redeemed;

I hope you let your worries fall away like the leaves of the trees.

You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. ~John 16:20-22

Delighting In Life’s Tiny Treasures

I hope you find it in your heart to see beauty in the small things this week,

To embrace your days with gratitude for all the tiny treasures sprinkled within them.

I hope you stop to smile at the way golden sunbeams warm your face in the midst of the chilly fall weather that’s unfolding day by day.

And if that sweet sun tucks itself behind the clouds and the rain comes down instead, I hope your soul quiets to its tranquil rhythm.

I hope the only thing you’re drenched with is peace.

I hope you lift your eyes up with the steam that rises from your cup, and take time to admire the last of the summer blooms outside your window.

I hope that fresh life outside reminds you that hope is always blossoming, bursting forth in radiant color.

I hope you flip open your Bible to a page that has a Scripture that speaks truth to your heart in just the way you need it to,

And that you feel awe-struck, joyful, and filled to the brim with the love the Spirit longs to delight you with.

I hope you light the candles you’ve been saving for a special occasion,

And that you’re reminded of the gracious purpose woven into your being.

I hope you keep taking those little steps towards your dreams, even when they seem miles beyond your reach.

I hope you touch them. I hope you embrace them. I hope you cherish them.

I hope your week is beautiful. I hope you let it shine.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” ~Romans 15:13