My Writing “Partner”

writing handOne of the most amazing phenomenons I’ve experienced in the past year or so can only be defined as God writing through me.  I know how that must sound.  Maybe a bit cheesy.  Maybe a little too uber-spiritual.  But it’s a real and constant reminder to me of how little I contribute to this process.

This applies to the 36 blog posts I’ve written on this site beginning in February 2018, the 28 posts from the ministry site beginning last December, the 3-4 different speaking presentations I’ve written…AND a booklet I’m getting ready to self-publish.  (Stay tuned for more on that!)  I’ve even experienced this in my Christmas letters over the past couple of seasons, especially the one God wrote through me about a month after Dale’s death.

EVERY TIME I sit down to write ANYTHING, I pray first and ask God to give me His words and to help me share the message that He wants in this ministry.

Oh sure, I usually come to my computer with a basic topic for a blog post and maybe what can only be described as an extremely skeletal outline.  Usually it’s a possible title and few random ideas (likely ALSO from God…).

Sometimes these topics have been rolling around in my head for a few weeks, and other times, the idea hits me completely out of the blue with an urgency that suggests I sit down and write NOW.

That’s exactly what happened with THIS post.  I was preparing to write something for the ministry site and, as always, prayed that prayer asking God to speak through me.  And boom!  THIS topic jumped out at me!  It was essentially God telling me to share the joy and wonder of this writing miracle with my readers.  Great idea, God!

So as soon as I scheduled the ministry post, I opened up a new Word document – prayed! – and then let God do what He has so faithfully done for so many months.  He fills my mind and my soul with messages that always surprise me.  He draws analogies for me.  He leads me to scripture texts that perfectly illustrate His message.  He even brings the best images for me to use weekly.

I don’t struggle with what to say or how to say it.  I don’t have the infamous “writer’s block.”  I just start to type, and the thoughts are almost always a few steps ahead of my fingers.  It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced.

So, for those of you who have so faithfully encouraged me with my writing, and extoled “my” writing skills, I do appreciate it and thank you for your kind words.  But, I want to stress again that it truly is NOT me.  Yes, God may have given me some sort of command of the English language, but the end result is His – and the ultimate praise and glory belong to Him.

How can I adequately describe what this is like?  I can tell you that I cry through almost everything I write.  So, first of all, I’m generally exhausted when I’m done!  But there is such a cleansing I feel through this process.  It is truly MY substitute for Christian counseling.

I am in awe whenever I finish writing.  To know how little I have in my head when I sit down – and then to see God’s finished product?  I can think of few experiences that so clearly confirm God’s power, His love for me, His hand on THIS ministry and His involvement in the minute details of my life.  I couldn’t be more grateful or more astonished by it.  And I just wanted you to know.

You have said, “Seek my face.”

My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

Psalm 27:8 ESV



Seasonal Lessons


I’ve written a couple of blog posts that circled around this topic – one on this personal site (Hope of Spring) and one on the ministry site (Appreciate the Good Times), but neither one fully addressed my thoughts on this subject.

Maybe I just want to write on this topic because we’ve experienced about a 50-degree temperature swing in the past few days!  Let’s hope there’s a bit more depth to it than that…

Lately I’m hearing more and more people talk about how life is full of seasons.  I’ve been saying that myself for the past 10 years or so.  If you’re one of my younger readers, say under 40, you may not have looked at life this way yet.

But for those of us who are likely in the last half of our earthly lives, this becomes more and more evident.  And the more I thought about it, the more I saw parallels to the real weather seasons we experience.

When I was younger and I saw my life as overwhelmingly blessed, I just assumed that’s how life should be.  I certainly didn’t think of it as just a “season” of my life.  Why would I want this beautiful summer to turn into winter?

But eventually, as I experienced difficult times in my life, I started to see those parallels.  Here are some of the life lessons I now see through this “seasonal lens.”

  • Seasons are inevitable. Just as surely as the snow melts and the tulips pop through, so will we experience times of joy and times of heartache, eventually.  I now look at BOTH of those times as seasons.  It isn’t just the difficult days that I equate to a winter season – it’s everything.  We move from one to another, and maybe back and forth.
  • Seasons come to an end. Unless you live in some tropical paradise…  But here in the Midwest, we can be assured that we will NOT be buried in snow come August.  And chances are pretty high that it won’t hit 95 degrees in mid-January.  And just as we all have our favorite weather season that we never want to see come to an end, so will we want our good times to be endless.  And conversely, the winter seasons of our life do mercifully eventually come to an end, and we see that hope of Spring I wrote about earlier.
  • We don’t know how long each season will last. Every year is a bit different.  When we lived in Stillwater, MN, we had a THREE-FOOT blizzard on Halloween!  That’s right!  Go figure.  Think that made for a REALLY long winter? Absolutely!  But when we built our last home in 2000 here in Iowa, we had 80-degree days in December which made for a much shorter winter season.  And a great year to be building a new home!  Despite “The Farmer’s Almanac” predictions, no one nails it 100%.  Similarly, with your life seasons, seldom do you know how long either the good or the difficult times will last.  (But God does.)
  • Some “miniseasons” are just cold fronts or heat waves. Within the four major seasons, we often find strange phenomenon showing up such as unexpected freezes or heat waves.  They may be in and out in a couple of days, and then you return to what you expect of the season.  Sure, they break it up a bit, for better or for worse, but there’s usually not a long-lasting affect.  When you go through a few days or weeks of “the blues,” you might just be experiencing one of those cold fronts.  Hopefully, your life returns to a sense of normalcy soon.  And getting some joyful news in the middle of a tough year might just be a little heat respite for your winter-weary soul.
  • God knows every detail of the seasons. Not only is God the Author and Creator of every season in every location from the beginning of time, but He knows EXACTLY what He’s doing as He takes you through the seasons of your life.  Nothing is arbitrary.  No pain is wasted.  Every one of your days is planned.
  • Look for the beauty in each season. Of course, we all have our favorites.  I toggle back and forth between Spring and Fall being my favorites.  I love the new life that Spring brings each year, but I also marvel at the spectacular colors of the Fall.  And even if we aren’t fans of the extremes of Summer and Winter, I’m sure we have all admired some incredible beauty during those days.

What about the seasons of my life?  Do I see beauty in each of them?  Do you?  Do I appreciate my favorite life season while I’m in it?  Am I purposeful about finding the good in my difficult days?  It’s pretty hard sometimes to do either, isn’t it?   It’s so easy to take for granted our happy days – until they’re taken from us and we’re plunged into a harsh winter season.  And then it’s difficult to see how any good could come from it.

But trust God to be in each of them with you, even if you don’t sense His presence.  And know that He will never leave you in your dark days longer than necessary for Him to teach you important life lessons, like entrusting these days to Him.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…

Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV


The Lonely Crowd


Well, isn’t that a title that makes you want to jump in and gobble up this post!?  But it’s a subject that’s been on my heart for a while now, and one that I believe God has given me some insights to share with you.

First, true confessions.  I’ve been struggling with loneliness A LOT lately.  Not really surprising since the words “lonely” and “widow” are often linked together.  Of course, I miss not living my life with Dale – and memories continue to make my heart ache for those bygone days.

A widow friend, whose husband died about 8 years ago, told me early on that loneliness was one of the hardest parts of being a widow.  And she said it gets worse over time because she has now been without him for more years.  Yep, I can certainly relate to that.  Getting harder, not easier.

Despite my best efforts to stay active with church and friends and the ministry, the reality is that I spend the large majority of my time alone.  Yes, my pets definitely help, but they’re no substitute for human interaction.

Because the circumstances leading to this loneliness aren’t going to change, i.e.  Dale’s NOT coming back, I realize that I am the one who needs to change – or at least figure out how to navigate through this.

This season of loneliness has opened up my eyes to a new reality.  MANY people live lonely lives!  I’m starting to see this condition in a whole new light.  Widows certainly don’t have the corner of the market on loneliness.  Anyone who is single or divorced or childless must certainly fight these same emotions.

And one doesn’t have to BE alone to be lonely.  Many people in unfulfilled relationships suffer as well.  Maybe you are an empty-nester and your loneliness is a result of a quiet house now that the kids are gone.

I just did a quick Google search on “the loneliness crisis” and I was shocked at how many articles address this subject.  One study suggests that nearly half of their respondents describe themselves as lonely.  Another study called loneliness an epidemic and a public health crisis more serious than obesity.

Of course, everyone has an opinion on what’s behind this crisis, from sleep deprivation to social media to prescription drugs.  There’s no shortage of opinions on the causes or the solutions.

But for the believer, that solution list might look a bit different.  As I’ve prayed over this and studied the scriptures, here are some of the insights God has graciously given to me.

  • My loneliness is not unique. Even Jesus knew loneliness, and certainly never more than as he was dying on the cross.  David wrote endless passages in the Psalms about his times of loneliness.  So, to a certain degree, it IS one of the sorrows we will suffer in this lifetime.  And there is comfort in knowing that our Savior experienced a loneliness greater than we can imagine.  He understands this pain.
  • Focus on eternity. I find GREAT comfort in thinking about spending eternity with Jesus and my loved ones in heaven. Meditating on God’s promises of no more tears, no more sadness, no more sorrow, no more LONELINESS, is a great balm for my soul!
  • Be grateful for times of fellowship. I want to appreciate more and more the time I spend with good friends.  We were not created to live in isolation.  God wants us living in fellowship with others, and I want to soak up that joy and preserve it for as long as I can!  Maybe even take a portion of it into my lonely days and nights.
  • Deepen my relationship with God. There’s no better time for this than when a heart is hurting and longing for relief.  God’s word is full of promises to bring joy and peace to your soul.  In fact, just this morning as I was contemplating this blog topic, God brought this scripture to my mind: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”  Jeremiah 31:3. Boy, it doesn’t get any better than that!  Lord, help me to run to you for comfort in my loneliness.
  • Learn to rest in God alone. I know this is similar to the previous point, but I want to stress that sometimes we need to learn contentment in our loneliness.  Be careful what you use to fill up your lonely life, or substitute as a temporary fix.  God is all-sufficient.
  • Do something for others. This is good advice for anyone at any time!  Pouring ourselves into someone else’s life, especially someone who is hurting, shifts the focus from our pain to their comfort.  I know it’s so hard to get started on this one, but the rewards are many!

So, if you are one of the many who struggles with loneliness, you are not alone!  That knowledge, however, is generally not enough to make any of us feel any better.  Know that Jesus is our forever friend, one who sticks closer than a brother.  He will never leave us or forsake us.  Pour out your heart to him, and then let him pour his love back into you.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

James 4:8