2021 Reflections on the Grace God Still Gives Us

2021 has been a tough year, hasn’t it? Most likely, for all of us in one way or another. Physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing. Losses of different kinds. Deep hurts in so many hearts. Uncertainties and fears about the future.

But God… Yes. But God is still with us and is giving us grace to survive. Even when we feel forsaken. Even when we feel weary, troubled, and sorrowful. Even when events in our lives or in the world have crushed us. He is still holding us up with His faithful love and compassion that will never, ever leave us.

This year God is teaching me on a deeper level how crucial it is to:

🦋 Remind my fainting heart to keep my eyes fixed on God’s unchangeable character. All the heartaches and changes in our world may disorient us or depress us, but God will never change and His love will never abandon us.

🌈 “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed, says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10 NIV

🦋 Let go of my tight-fisted grip of “needing to fix” situations out of my control. This is so hard to do, isn’t it? But God longs for us to leave these anxieties in His Almighty hands and to believe in His power to heal, redeem, and bring justice in His time and way.

🌈 “This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15 NLT

🦋 Diligently seek, pay attention to, and thank God for the beauty and the blessings still surrounding me. There are so many blessings right in front of us that we take for granted each moment, right? The beauty in God’s creation, the strength we’re given with each breath and step we take (whether emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually), the kindness and love many people still do show. And on and on it goes. Even in the midst of chaos and heartaches, God still heaps on the invaluable gift of His grace so freely.

🌈 “And from the overflow of His fullness we received grace heaped upon more grace!” John 1:16 TPT

What has been the toughest trial to you personally this year? What special grace have you been given even in the midst of it, whether in the moment or in hindsight?

Depression and Anxiety Help and Hope Resources

“Seeing the people,
He felt compassion for them,
because they were distressed and dispirited
like sheep without a shepherd.”
Matthew 9:36 NASB

“There are seasons when
doubts and fears abound,

and so suffocate us with their fumes
that we cannot even raise a cry,
and then the indwelling Spirit
represents us, and speaks for us,
and makes intercession for us,
crying in our name.”
~ Charles Spurgeon

” In the same way the Spirit
also helps our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we should,
but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us
with groanings too deep for words.”
Romans 8:26-27 NASB

Trapped In My Own Mind: Three Lies Depression Loves by Sarah Walton

Depression does not mean God is punishing us, does not mean God is absent, and it does not make us useless.

“Depression of spirit is no index of declining grace. It is Christ and not the absence of depression that saves us. So, we declare this truth. Our sense of God’s absence does not mean that He is so. Though our bodily gloom allows us no feeling of his tender touch, He holds on to us still. Our feelings of Him do not save us. He does.”
– Spurgeon’s Sorrows, 38–39

Anxiety in Children: How to Recognize Symptoms and Help Anxious Children by Dr. Michelle Bengston

“In recent days, anxiety has been at an all-time high not just in our country but across the world. Think your child hasn’t been anxious? Don’t be so sure. On the podcast, we’ve recently started a series on how to defeat anxiety during times of crisis. I recently recorded a podcast episode with my son taking his “emotional temperature” in the wake of spring break being extended, school-going online instead of in person, and being unable to socialize as normal with peers (Helping a Teenager with Anxiety). After talking with him, I knew we needed to have further discussion about how to recognize anxiety in children and help them.”

The Story of the Oyster and The Butterfly: The Corona Virus and Me

Bonnie Gray offers this soul care resource from a therapist who helped her through healing from emotional childhood trauma – “This free book written by a psychotherapist and author Ana M. Gomez will help children understand and process their feelings about Covid-19. A wonderful tool to spark conversations with your child. Great for adults too!”

Rebecca Hastings offers a simple guided journal.

“I have been struggling with my feelings during the Coronavirus Pandemic our world is facing. That is expected. What I didn’t expect was to struggle with PRAYING through it. I know that God is here, even in this. But sometimes it is hard to find the words when our emotions are all over the place. That’s why I made this journal for us.”

On the guided pages, there are spaces to write who God is, what we’re grateful for, what we’re honestly feeling that day, what we ask God to help us with, and a place to write out a verse from His Word.

American Psychological Association’s COVID-19 Information and Resources

Resources relevant to our mental health during this pandemic and continually updated by APA for psychologists, health-care workers and the public

Crisis Hotlines and Resources

“Need to talk to someone? Specialists are available for confidential telephone counseling.”

Covid-19 Resource and Information Guide

Helpful guide from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) – simple actions to aid our mental health and calm our anxiety, preventing and addressing social stigma, questions answered, helplines, and more

“I often feel very grateful to God that I have undergone fearful depression. I know the borders of despair and the horrible brink of that gulf of darkness into which my feet have almost gone. But hundreds of times I have been able to give a helpful grip to brethren and sisters who have come into that same condition, which grip I could never have given if I had not known their deep despondency.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

Blessings
by Laura Story

October Roundup: Links, Quotes, Books & More


On My Side
by Kim Walker Smith

“In the front lines, You fight for me
Oh, Your kindness is my shield
When the armies rise and I am scared
My heart You will defend
You are on my side
You go before me
You stand behind
You tell my fear to run
Always and forever
I am loved
You are on my side…”

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 another “N” word for Jesus’ Love.

❤  No Greater Love 
“There is no greater love than to
lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:13 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. 🙂

It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way: Finding Unexpected Strength When Disappointments Leave You Shattered by Lysa TerKeurst

(Lysa’s book will release on November 13, 2018.)

“What do you do when God’s timing seems questionable, His lack of intervention hurtful, and His promises doubtful

Life often looks so very different than we hoped or expected. Some events may simply catch us off guard for a moment, but others shatter us completely. We feel disappointed and disillusioned, and we quietly start to wonder about the reality of God’s goodness.

Lysa TerKeurst understands this deeply. But she’s also discovered that our disappointments can be the divine appointments our souls need to radically encounter God.” (Amazon Review)

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Hope Harbor

💞  Articles/Blog Posts That Inspire Hope and Healing 💞

💞 You’ll Never Know It From Looking At Her by Alia Joy – “So many stay silent, like the woman with her Xanax prescription in the bottom of her purse. She doesn’t say a word about how a body can betray you, how a mind can be so hard to control when the chemistry goes haywire and no amount of joy or praise or prayer works to take it away.”

💞 Shattered Beyond Repair by Lisa TerKeurst – “But what about those times when things aren’t just broken but shattered beyond repair? Shattered to the point of dust. At least when things are broken there’s some hope you can glue the pieces back together.”

💞 Ten Reasons to Hope When You Are Hurting by Stephen Arterburn – Are you hurting? Here are ten reasons based on Bible verses to hang onto hope.

Nature Retreat

“Sometimes you need to unplug
and enjoy nature’s company.”
Unknown

These awesome photos are again from my brother in Arizona. Thank you, John! 🙂 (My brother kindly gives me permission to share his photos out of his desire to share the joy of nature with others, but as with all photos, I ask that you please do remember copyright laws.)

🐾 Barnstorming: Seeking Sanctuary in the Seasons of Rural Life – Emily chronicles the seasons of life at their farm in Washington. She shares beautiful photos of nature and poems/prose that relate, including her own.

🐾 Cindy Tiehen Photography – Cindy’s hope is to inspire with a glimpse of nature’s grace. She certainly does that with her breath-taking photos.

🐾 Jarred Warren Photography – Jarred’s landscape photos and time-lapse videos are awesome and inspiring.

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Quotes

New quotes this month are about Truth.

❤ “The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.” – Augustine

❤ “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” – Charles Spurgeon

❤ “Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.” – James E. Faust

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

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