Happy November

Today I’m grateful for second chances.  For new beginnings.  For a whole new month, with nothing written on it yet.

Triberg, Black Forest, Germany
Triberg, Black Forest, Germany

One of my favorite things in life is a new journal.

I love starting out fresh with a whole notebook full of blank pages, each one just waiting to be filled with wonderful, exciting, inspiring thoughts.  As I begin to fill the pages my handwriting is neat and orderly, my notes organized, each idea worthy of the pristine space.

That lasts for a day or two.  And then I’m right back to my normal routine.  Scribbling down thoughts as they come.  Drawing lines and arrows to connect ideas that go together but didn’t show up at the same time.  Marking through something that I realize is not really what I think.

By the time the journal is filled the outside is marred and scratched.  The cover may be bent.  There are coffee stains in a few places.  Some pages might be torn or crumpled.  And it’s full of thousands of words, a few sketches, hundreds of exclamation points–along with heartfelt prayers, daily praises, lists of blessings, Bible verses that I want to apply to my life, tearful confessions, and things about myself that I want to change.

As I near the back of the notebook I find myself looking forward to another new beginning.  The next empty journal.  Another chance to really get things right this time.  The old journal begins to feel heavy, confining, like an old garment I’ve outgrown.  I hope that discomfort means I’m growing spiritually and emotionally, ready for new lessons and new thoughts.  Much as a snake sheds its old skin periodically, I want to shrug off the old and embrace the new.

Castle Rampart, Esslingen, Germany
Castle Rampart, Esslingen, Germany

The first day of the month is like that, too.  I’m ready to set October aside.  Let go of the expectations for myself that I didn’t fulfill.  Leave mistakes and regrets behind.  And step forward into a new month.

Hopefully, I carry forward with me the lessons learned.  I review my plans, check my progress, and reassess my priorities.  I make another fresh start, with hope and joyful expectation.  Exciting things could happen in this new month!

Many people go through this process at the beginning of a new year.  And I’ll do that, too, in January.  But I don’t want to wait a whole year between times of deep reflection.   If I’m getting it wrong, I want to know now so I can correct it.  If it’s working, I want to do more.

With the Apostle Paul, I want to press on–to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  (See Philippians 3:12)  I want to be more and do more for Him.  I want to grow and learn and be molded into His image.

Thank God, I have another chance.  It’s a new month, and I am rejoicing in hope!

Blessings on your November,



Far Beyond Me


All of it.

God’s ways are bigger and higher than mine–far beyond my understanding.

Esslingen Castle Steps, Esslingen, Germany
Esslingen Castle Steps, Esslingen, Germany

His love is richer, fuller, deeper, wider than I can begin to comprehend.

His grace is more generous than I can conceive of, pouring out in lavish, outrageous abundance.

His power, through the Holy Spirit, can accomplish infinitely more than I could even imagine, let alone think to ask for.

His plans and purpose are perfect, and beyond my comprehension.

His calling on my life is bigger than me, and far beyond what I could ever accomplish on my own.  And that’s okay.  Because too big for me is just right for Him.

The same is true for you.  God calls each of us to plans and purposes and visions that are so big we think we must have misunderstood.  We might even wonder if it’s arrogant to believe God would choose us for that particular work.

But when the prompting continues and will not be quieted, when the still small voice in our hearts continues to nudge us forward, it might be time to stop and listen.  To pray and seek His guidance.  To consider how we should answer the call.

The really good news is He doesn’t leave us on our own to figure it out.

Instead He offers His constant presence.  The Holy Spirit living right inside us is part of the package that makes up the Christian life.  He is always there, guiding us, holding us up, offering His wisdom–even when we’re not paying attention.  Even when we’re so busy trying to figure it out on our own that we don’t have time to listen to the still small voice of God.

What are you facing today that’s so big and scary it takes your breath away?  Have you taken time yet to sit still and listen?

In John 15:26, just before Jesus was led away to be crucified, He told His disciples about the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said, “I will send you the Advocate–the Spirit of truth.”  The Greek word Paraclete, translated here as Advocate, can also be translated as Comforter, Encourager, or Counselor.

This is the person who lives with you moment by moment when you belong to Jesus.  An advocate, a teller of truth, a comforter, encourager, counselor.  Someone who is always available, even in the dark hours of a sleepless night.  One who can be trusted completely because He’s always on your side–always FOR you.

Even though God blessed us with marvelous minds, our human reasoning does not begin to compare with His.  The wisdom He provides is way more than anything we could come up with, and generously given when we ask for it.  (See James 1:5)

So when it feels like whatever you’re facing is beyond impossible, take heart.  Be encouraged by the Spirit of truth who lives inside you.  Listen.  Your Advocate is on your side and knows what you need.  He is offering you counsel and comfort.  He is putting His mighty power to work on your behalf.

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.  Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever!  Amen!”  Ephesians 3:20-21

What God calls us to do is most often way beyond our ability.  But that’s okay, because it’s always just right for Him.  And that, my friend, is cause for rejoicing!