January Roundup: Links, Quotes, Books & More


Free As a Bird
by Rend Collective

“You break us out of our cages
Into the wide open spaces
We are free
Free as a bird on the wind
No prison wall can contain us
Your beating heart makes us fearless
We are free
Free as a bird on the wind
Love cannot be tamed
You shattered every chain…”

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.

 Another verse about Jesus’ Love:

❤  Freeing Love 
“So if the Son sets you free,
you are truly free.

John 8:36 NLT

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. 🙂

The Voice: Listening for God’s Voice and Finding Your Own
by Sandi Patty
(Link is to Valerie Murray’s review of this book)

“Christian music icon and forty-time Dove award winner, Sandi Patty has long astounded listeners with her powerful voice. And yet, off the stage, Sandi struggled to have a voice at all.

Through deeply intimate stories of her life and the empowering spiritual truths she’s learned, Sandi offers readers wisdom to navigate the journey from voicelessness to discovering the voice God has given you. With a poignant history of sexual abuse, infidelity, divorce, and crises of self-image, Sandi lived much of her life feeling unworthy of love or value. And like so many of us, she coped by living through the voices of others, allowing other people to prescribe her identity. As she performed around the world, Sandi met others just like her, who hid wounds behind quiet smiles and struggled to live with fractured identities.

Sandi’s warm and invitational writing will draw you to the voice of God who sings over your life saying you are seen, you are loved, and your voice is worth hearing. With timeless wisdom, The Voice will help you uncover your God-given identity and a voice of your very own.

‘God heard my voice even when I couldn’t hear it myself and then his voice broke through my walls and wounds, insecurities and self-doubts. I am voiceless no more!'” (Amazon Book Review)

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Hope Harbor

💞  Articles/Blog Posts That Inspire Hope and Healing 💞

My husband and I lost a loved one (his brother) to cancer. His memorial service was yesterday. So in honor of Adrian and all those who are still fighting cancer, these links share how we can best support those who struggle with it. How we can give them hope and not cause additional emotional pain on top of what they already suffer.

💞 10 Things Cancer Patients Love to Hear  – Cancer patients share what they love to hear.

💞 5 Things Christians Should NOT Say to Cancer Patients by Lee Wilson – “For years now I’ve felt there was a disconnect between the well-meaning reactions of church members toward Christians affected by cancer and other diseases of similar dread.” Many cancer patients hear words that cause emotional pain on top of what they’re already suffering. Lee shares by experience what not to say and some things we can do.

💞 How To Support Someone With Cancer by Dr. Michelle Bengtson – From experiencing cancer with both herself and her husband, Michelle has learned these 12 important, insightful tips for supporting someone with cancer. 

Nature Retreat

“The woods would be very silent
if no birds sang except
those who sang the best.”
John James Audubon
“Be as a bird perched on a frail branch
that she feels bending beneath her,
still she sings away all the same,
knowing she has wings.”
Victor Hugo

I really miss birds during these winter months! My brother’s photos from Arizona truly brighten my days, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy them, too. Thank you, John! 🙂

White-breasted Nuthatch
Red-naped Sapsucker
Northern Mockingbird
Northern Flicker
Acorn Woodpecker
White-throated Thrush

🐾 Surfbirds – The World Birding Website – lots of beautiful bird photos, great articles, trip reports, blogs, forums, and more

🐾 BirdNote – I love this! BirdNote is a two-minute radio show that combines rich sounds with engaging stories to illustrate the amazing lives of birds and give listeners a momentary respite from the news of the day.

🐾 Bird Photography from National Geographic – A list of links to the Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week posts. Awesome photos!

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Quotes

I’m adding a new category this month – Grieving.

❤ “Tears have a wisdom all their own. They come when a person has relaxed enough to let go and to work through his sorrow. They are the natural bleeding of an emotional wound, carrying the poison out of the system. Here lies the road to recovery.” – F. Alexander Magoun

“It’s okay to cry. Giving in to the tears is terrifying, like free-falling to earth without a parachute. But it’s vital to our wellbeing as we process the deep anguish.” – Lynda Cheldelin Fell

“Tears water our growth.” – William Shakespeare

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Thank You
to anyone and everyone who recommends
links, books, quotes, etc.

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Grieving and Giving Chronic Illness to God Who Cares

I don’t write about it much, but I’ll admit I do get so weary sometimes of chronic illness… Shortness of breath, persistent coughing, tight and sore bronchial airways, aching in my bones, draining energy, brain fog, and recurrent bronchial infections that flare up my sarcoidosis, a multi-system inflammatory disease primarily affecting the lungs.

Through all losses, we need to go through a grieving process, don’t we? Even when we have health limitations. Sure, it helps to look at others we feel have it so much worse, but I’m learning that only leads us to dismiss or minimize our health issues. Then we start to do more what others expect of us than to care for ourselves. We end up draining ourselves.

We need to allow ourselves to believe we have a problem so we can do what will help, not hinder, our well-being. We need to work through any feelings, like anger or depression, that detriment our health. To mourn the things our hearts long to do, but our bodies don’t agree to. To grieve over the pain of others not understanding us. It’s okay not to feel okay.

God invites us to unburden any and every hurt in our hearts, even when we feel upset at Him for not healing us like we want. He desires for us to allow His grace-filled arms to hold us up, His compassion to console us, and His unconditional love to release the pressure we put on ourselves.

No matter what we suffer from, Jesus empathizes with us and cries with us. He has experienced every kind of suffering imaginable, so He understands. Because He suffered for us, we don’t have to be alone in our suffering.

It can be so hard though, right? It’s a process that recycles over and over again. But God is not going to abandon us, even when it feels like it. His character is the very essence of love and faithfulness. His mercies are new every morning.

“Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!”
Lamentations 3:22-23

I have not posted this to gain any pity. I’m just trying to be real. It’s something I really need work on. I usually have this automatic answer when most people ask me how I am – “I’m fine! How are you?” I try to be strong in front of others, and I end up paying for it. I’m not meaning we should wallow in a puddle of self-pity and expect everyone to sit there with us. We can be honest about how we feel but still, through God’s grace, seek the beauty all around us.

I know there are many who compare their suffering with others’ and feel their suffering isn’t worth mentioning and think they should just be thankful for what they have more than others, myself included. I write this with a prayer that even one reader will feel less alone and will realize Jesus deeply cares and understands. He doesn’t measure one suffering to be worse than another. He waits with open arms and ears to hear each of us pour out every pain of our hearts, minds, and bodies.

“Praise You In This Storm”
by Casting Crowns

 May God give you strength and hope for each day!

“MY Peace I Give You”

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The stealthy hand of discouragement put a chokehold on me and dragged me into the quicksand of depression. I was sinking fast. Beside myself, I wrestled, which only pulled me down further. Finally, as I let go of my wanting-to-fix-this-myself attitude, I cried and poured out my heart to God.

“Please, God, please don’t let me sink into depression again. What’s wrong? Why am I so downhearted when I have so many blessings? I see them, and I’m so grateful. I don’t understand this, Lord. This discouragement takes hold of me and won’t let me go. Please, God, please, help me to rest in You. Help, God, help… I’m sinking…”

I’ve been struggling with learning to embrace instead of fight against my chronic illness, but when I get achy and worn out or I get sick again, courage and comfort drain away sometimes. My mind weakly tries to grasp the promises, but my heart won’t always let them in.

I don’t always want to talk or write about this, because I don’t want to sound like a whiner. But the reality is there. Not only for me, but also for you.

You may not have a chronic illness, but there are so many other losses, burdens, or heartaches we all deal with every day in one way or another. And they are, oh, so real. Maybe you have tried, like me, to tell yourself, “There are those who have it worse than me, so I shouldn’t complain.” But that doesn’t help us deal with and grieve our own losses. Acknowledging and grieving our own pain helps us to cope better in life.

No matter what your trial is, I’m so sorry you have to go through it. It is real and it hurts really bad. And no matter what anyone says, whether it’s others’ or your own criticizing voice, you can’t live fully and freely with it unless you acknowledge how much it hurts you and you grieve over its presence in your life.

That day when I was sinking down, the relief did not come right away, but God was gracious and He heard my cry. These words seeped as a soothing balm into my troubled heart, and I hope they will in yours as well:

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid.”
John 14:27

He promises HIS PEACE. Not will give, but He says “I give.” Right now, this moment. And His peace can take away the trouble and fear in our hearts.

I knew this verse was in John 14, so I read that chapter. It’s amazing. Jesus is preparing a room for us in His Father’s house, a better place for us hereafter. The pain we feel now is nothing compared to the joy He is preparing for us.

Sometimes my heart is so homesick for Him, to be with Him forever where nothing will hinder us from praising Him fully and completely. Won’t that be a glorious day?

Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?”

And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.”

Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.

That is why they stand in front of God’s throne
and serve Him day and night in His Temple.
And He who sits on the throne
will give them shelter.
They will never again be hungry or thirsty;
they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun.
For the Lamb on the throne
will be their Shepherd.
He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.
And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

Revelations 7:13-17

Praying For His peace in your hearts and in your lives!
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21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace