Abiding In the Life-Giving Vine

How was your summer? Were you overwhelmed with busyness or struggles? Did you have any soul-refreshing quiet times with God?

I sincerely hope each of you have some memory where you were certain God is watching out for you. I hope you glimpsed His unfailing love for you. I hope your troubled soul was strengthened with hope to take the next step forward.

My life continues to be a healing process. Sometimes just when I think I’m safe on the solid ground of Jesus, tumultuous waves from unhealed layers of deep pain knock me down. I have to constantly remind my heart of God’s Truth to refute the lies that blast their way in.

One night as I wrestled with an aching void in my heart, restlessness deep in my soul, and a confusing roadmap in my mind, I pleaded with God to speak to me. Lord, what is it You want me to do? If there is something I need to do, tell me. Please.

“Abide in Me.” What? “Abide in Me.”

So began my summer quest… What does that mean, Lord?

“Abide” means to remain, to continue, to stay. But it goes so much deeper than that when Jesus tells us to abide in Him, doesn’t it?

“Abide in Me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself

unless it abides in the vine,
so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
I am the vine, you are the branches;
he who abides in Me and I in him,
he bears much fruit,
for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
John 15:4-5 NASB

Without the life-giving nutrients from Jesus, the True Vine, our deep soul hunger will never be satisfied. Without a heart and soul connection to Him, we have nothing and can do nothing. Without His life-sustaining power, the smallest storm will rip us away.

We need to open our hearts wide to receive His Word. To devour, digest, and allow His truth to dominate our thoughts, words, and actions. To let it free-flow into the deepest parts of our souls to replenish, revive, and reform us each and every moment of day and night.

“If we would ripen in grace, we must live near to Jesus –
in His presence – ripened by the sunshine of His smiles.
We must hold sweet communion with Him.
We must leave the distant view of His face and come near,
as John did, and pillow our head on His breast;
then shall we find ourselves advancing in holiness.”
Charles Spurgeon

When we choose to abide in our life-giving and life-sustaining Savior, it won’t be easy. No, it will be harder sometimes, because Satan tries his best to rip us from Him. But Satan’s best is never good enough. We are immovably secure, because our victorious Savior chose to die for us, chose to live for us, and chooses to abide with us and in us. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. With Him, we can keep taking the next step.

That is why I can come back to blogging. It’s not about my bearing fruit to God. It’s about letting go of my own striving to do more or be better. It’s about remaining connected to Jesus and allowing His nutrients to flow through me to others.

This willful child will often forget and fall down. But I will get up again, and step by step, I will learn to abide in Him more freely and fully. To pillow my head on His chest and let Him wrap His arms around me in the warmth of His unfailing love. To believe His steadfast willingness and even His delight to calm my fears and insecurities, to refresh me with nutrients from His endless fountain of grace, and to give me words focused on Him and His love, not on myself.

I pray each word will be balm to your hurting heart and will point you to our only HOPE in Jesus!

I am looking forward to interacting with you again. It amazes me that though my heart’s longing is to encourage you, I often end up on the receiving end of encouragement. Thank you so much for blessing me. God is so good to me.

“Abide With Me”
by Matt Maher

“Abide with me, abide with me
Don’t let me fall, and don’t let go
Walk with me and never leave
Ever close, God abide with me

Time to Restore, Replenish, and Refocus

Dear Readers,

When I begin to feel overwhelmed and have to put more pressure on myself to write a weekly blog post, I am learning I need to let go and withdraw into rest in body, mind, and soul. Also that I shouldn’t feel guilty about doing so. So I have decided to take a break from blogging this summer. I need to spend some time allowing God to restore, replenish, and refocus my heart and mind. I’m not sure how long, but for sure the month of June and possibly even July. I am going to try to relax, let go of my grip on my own agenda, and allow God to lead me into His plan.

Meanwhile, you all will remain in my heart and prayers. Even if you are silent readers, I care about you. You are always welcome to email me (email in the right-hand column) if you have a prayer request, need someone to care, or just want to chat.

Above all, God cares about you. He is always available 24/7. He loves you so very much and longs for you to let go and allow Him to love you.

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with you all.”
2 Corinthians 13:14

“Lion”
by Rebecca St. James

“This is not a dream that I’m living
This is just a world of Your own
You took me from all that I knew
Shown me how it feels to hope
With You with me, facing tomorrow together
I can learn to fly
Feels like I’m living in a lion’s mouth, but the lion is (an angel)”

May the God of all hope
heal your heart,
free you to fly,
and fill you with His joy!

New This Month: Links, Quotes, Books & More

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GOD HEARS
by Newsong

“But there is hope, my friend
You will sing again

‘Cause God hears when there are no words to speak
God hears when your sorrow runs deep
And it feels like all your faith has disappeared
God hears, God hears…”

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ABCs of Jesus’ Love

Visit this page anytime and let me know if you’d like to add to the words describing Jesus’ love along with a verse supporting it. Remember, there is also a print-out of the original list.

 This month I have added an “A” Word:

❤︎ Abiding Love ❤︎
“We have come to know
[by personal observation and experience],
and have believed [with deep, consistent faith]
the love which God has for us. God is love,
and the one who abides in love abides in God,
and God abides continually in him.

1 John 4:16 AMP

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Books

I am not always able to keep up with the abundance of books that promote hope, healing, and freedom, so I haven’t always read every one I post here and on the Books Page. Though many are on my long wish list. 🙂  Many will be from recommendations of online friends. If you ever know of a book that is not listed and that supports this website’s mission, please let me know. 🙂

Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray

“A unique 40-day devotional detox that will guide you to a place of intimate rest. Be the beloved.”

If you have not yet read my review, you can find it here.

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Hope Harbor

💞  Links That Inspire Hope and Healing 💞

“We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up His permanent post as High Priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:18-20 The Message

💞  Unshakable Hope  – Read Bill’s amazing testimony of the grace of God and how God is using him to minister hope to others in the midst of the heavy trial of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Bill says, “This trial has taught us that the only way to experience genuine and consistent hope, peace and joy in the midst of a trial is to view our life and situation through God’s eyes.” I am linking to a particular blog post as it has a link to the interview he and his wife, Mary, had with Moody Radio.

💞  31 Days of Hope for Moms – “In 31 Days of Hope for Moms, we will be taking a look at some of the common challenges of mothering younger children (disorganization, frustration, depression, behavioral issues, the marriage relationship and more). We will be seeing what the Bible says about these situations as well as talking about many practical helps for pressing on with joy during this beautiful season of life!”

💞  How to Find Hope in the Midst of Suffering – “We often will not know what our hurt is accomplishing, but Christ’s death is our guarantee that God won’t waste a tear. Our tenacious belief in a relational God who is good is our only hope through and in our hurt. But this tenacity doesn’t come from us, for we are extremely weak. Tenacity is achieved by very real nails driven through very real wrists on a very real cross. And today Jesus prays for us without ceasing before his Father and we are filled with the Holy Spirit to suffer as well.”

Nature Retreat

“Nature is not a place to visit.
It is home.”

~ Gary Snyder

The top four are recent photos from my brother, John, in Arizona. The bottom three are photos taken when one of my sons, Glen, and his wife went to Cancun, Mexico.

American Coots

An American Kestrel with a Zebra-Tailed Lizard

Tarantula Hawk Wasp
You certainly don’t want to get stung by one of these! They have the worst insect sting in North America and the 2nd worst in the world. They also paralyze tarantulas and lay an egg on them for the larva to eat and grow.

Quatu

My son said these quatus ran around looking for food. They would line up at a garbage can and would take turns climbing in, one at a time, to find something to feast on.

A Sunrise in Cancun

🐾  10,000 Birds – “Welcome to 10,000 birds, just the place for people who love birds, pictures of birds, and people who write about birds, birding, conservation, and much more.”

🐾  Animal Expressions – I love this! Not all the photos are wild animals, but I’m certain they will bring some smiles into your day! “A look at the interesting faces of all kinds of creatures and different forms of communication among the species.”

🐾  8 Animals You Won’t Believe Actually Exist – Very interesting! This is a 6-minute video of rare animals many don’t know exist.

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Quotes

❤︎ “Courage is like love; it must have hope for nourishment. ~ Napolean Bonaparte

❤︎ “I place no hope in my strength, nor in my works: but all my confidence is in God my protector, who never abandons those who have put all their hope and thought in Him. ~ Francois Rabelais

❤︎ “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

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