About Our Doubts
Click here to complete my mini-survey and for a chance to win a book!You are blessings me to pieces with all your comments and surveys. I'm going to leave this up through the weekend and make some big announcements on Monday. Have a great weekend my faithful and wonderful friends!!

to those linking over from my P31 devotion.
As I shared, my heart needs lots of repairs and Jesus is always there offering to do them. But sometimes it's to doubt it's possible. Or we doubt ourselves and our futures when our lives feel broken; our dreams shattered. For years I allowed the pain of my past to keep me from believing God had hope for my future. I let insecurities and doubts keep me from living in the assurance of God’s promises and the confidence of God’s love.

Give-away and Mini-Survey
Now I sense God calling me to help other women walk out of the shadows of their doubts and live in the confidence of who God has created and called them to be. I'm writing a book on the topic of a woman's doubts. I know that publishers want to hear what a woman is thinking and feeling, and needing for encouragement. So, I created a mini-survey (6 questions) that will help determine the focus of each chapter.

Pretty please, would you take two minutes to
complete the short survey and then come back to let me know you did. As my thanks to you, I’ll be giving away 4 autographed copies of Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? So, please take the survey and leave a comment below this post telling me you did it. I'm praying for 500+ responses!!! You can help by telling friends and sending a link. If you get others to complete it, tell me and you'll have two chances to win. I'll do the drawing Monday! THANK YOU so much!!!

More encouragement for today...

When God Takes Broken and Makes it Beautiful

My dearest friend’s husband, one of my favorite pastors, had been told his position was being eliminated. She would be moving - hours away. This was the woman who had believed in me. Invested in me. Encouraged me. Prayed for me, and stood beside me as I walked through my fears and doubts to follow God's calling to write and speak.

This was my women's ministry leader. The one I was going to serve alongside until we both shriveled up and went to be with Jesus. This was the woman had built one of the most amazing women's ministries in the country. And now it was broken!

My heart was broken, too. I didn't know how to process my pain.

I thought yard work might be a good distraction for my despair. As I walked into our backyard, I noticed a rose bush the previous homeowner had planted in the center of our split rail fence. It was in full bloom, expressing her glory through the display of gorgeous pink blossoms across the center of the fence.

How did that happen? I wondered.

Although I'd never used it, I knew we had rose food in our shed so I decided to fertilize the bush to help her sustain her blossoms.

As I pulled the weeds back, clearing the way for plant food to sink into the soil, I noticed the root ball divided into four sections. Then a thought ran through my mind. Should I leave them all together, or pull them apart and place them at different posts on the fence? If I separated them and planted the sections in fertile soil at separate posts, their vines would eventually connect and create a blanket of pink draped across the whole fence.

I knelt before the blossoming beauty and pressed my hands into the dirt, trying to find the right places to separate the root ball. That's when I felt God whisper to my heart.

Renee, do you see this plant? It's what I see when I look at you and the women's ministry you love. Each of you serving on the ministry team has been carefully planted in your giftedness, nurtured and encouraged through prayer, equipped through training, fertilized by opportunities to serve and you have produced fruit...fruit that will last!

But, like this plant, you have reached the fullness of My glory in your current soil. You and the rest of the team are ready to divided into separate plants so that my glory in each of you will be more fully displayed as you are uniquely and individually planted in new places of ministry.

What? Surely MaryAnn leaving wasn't the only uprooting I was about to experience? I couldn't bear the thought. More pruning? More breaking up of what has taken years to establish?

I had just gotten to where I was comfortable and felt courage to step and do more in ministry. I was surrounded by women who loved me. We were a team and I just couldn't do it without them. Yet, as I imagined God's glory like that of the rose bush being more fully displayed, my heart settled into a place that felt very right. It wasn’t my plan, but if it was for His glory, wasn’t that what I wanted? Would I trust Him to heal the brokenness and pain and bring something good from it?

That day I knelt on Holy ground in front of my rose bush and surrendered the broken dreams in my heart. Even if it meant letting go of what I loved so deeply, it would be worth it if others would see HIM more clearly. Somehow I knew that with God's care, our vines would cross again in the Kingdom, and His beauty would be more gloriously seen in these new places where He was about to plant each of us.

That was five years ago. I honestly don't think I'd be who I am today if God had not uprooted my plans and redefined my dreams.

It's hard when God allows our hopes to be shattered, our hearts to be broken, our relationships to be fractured, our fears to be realized. I really doubted any good could come from such loss. I doubted that I could make it through the pain.

Like the uprooting of that rose bush some of my leaves wilted, some stems were cut back, petals fell to the ground and some branches had more thorns than blossoms for a while. It took time for me to get re-established in new soil. But God plan for His glory became evident each day that I surrendered to His power and trusted His plans more than mine.

I didn’t think I could make it but God took my doubts and created absolute dependence on Him. I pray that somehow today you see His glory more fully in me and in yourself as we depend more fully on Him, to take our broken and make something beautiful.


If you haven't yet, please complete my short survey and then leave a comment below so I can enter you for a chance in the give-away! My hope and prayer is to have 500 surveys for my book research. THANK YOU!!!

You're the Reason
Thank you so much for your encouragement and prayers as I pull away to work on my book proposal!! I finished my chapter summaries Friday night, and started writing sample chapters.

My eyes have been crossing and my brain is saying, "Enough already!" I don't think I've thought this hard or this much in all my life! This is really a challenge for a woman who processes her ideas verbally. Maybe I could just "speak" this book and it would come to be. Hmm, only God can do that, huh?

I just have to share how your prayers are working. God orchestrated something that only He could do to keep me focused. Last week, after I wrote my last blog post committing to get it done, an editor from Harvest House publishers called me at home. They wanted to see if I could meet with them this morning - because they just so happened to be coming to town and had a morning appointment slot open. My literary agent, who I have not talked to in months, told them I had a book proposal they ought to consider. She didn't even know I had been sent to "time out" to finish it.

Only God.

Only God knew I needed that confirmation. That deadline. That push. And only God knew now much my meeting with Terry Glaspey and LaRae Weikert from Harvest House would totally bless me. They had such a great questions and suggestions. Which means I may re-work my chapter outlines but for now I am staying focused on my sample chapters.

I know you have dreams of your own. Calls you wish would come. Doors you pray God would open. I know you are asking God for clarity and direction, provision and protection in your own life. As I step into the dream God is forming in my heart, I am praying for the dreams He has for you, too.

You are the reason I am writing this book. You are the woman I am thinking of as I stretch my heart and my brain cells. You are the woman I want to encourage and walk beside as you step out of the shadows of your doubts and walk in the confidence of who God has created you to be.

But you know what? I am the reason, too. I need this book just as much as anyone. I know what God has taught me and how far He's brought me, but I still need to walk that way again. So, I pray over and write each word for you. But I have a feeling God has me writing this for me, too.

Well. Enough about that. One more thing. I wanted to let you know about my friend Wendy Blight who is offering an online study on Wednesdays this summer. It's based on her book Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner which is about her journey to healing and freedom after a devastating sexual assault. I know for me, summer schedules make it hard to commit to a weekly gathering at a time and place, but an online study gives the flexibility we need. Check it out her blog!

I'm in Time Out!
I got an email from my sweet friend and "boss" Lysa on Monday telling me she was mandating (in a sweet kind of way) that I take time off work to finish my book proposal!

She knew that I had a really stressful week last week at work, I've been traveling with speaking, and just not able to keep up lately with life, ministry, family and my roles at P31. But her biggest concern is that she knows I am frustrated because I haven't worked on my book much since mid April when I had to stop for Spring break and taxes. And the way things are going it might not get done, and that makes me sad.

As soon as I read her email, a peace came over me, and I knew it was what I needed to do. I knew it was permission from a friend and direction from God.

It sounded so good. So easy. Just turn off everything else and start writing. But it hasn't been easy at all!

I had promises to two friends that I needed/wanted to keep on Monday. So I decided I'd start on Tuesday. Then yesterday I remembered things I HAD TO DO for radio and She Speaks before I could go into "time out" and I'd also planned to spend time with my friend Kim since she needed a ride to another doctor's appointment.

Last night I caught up on emails at work and home, and now I am in "time out." The good thing is that it gives me time to pull away and think, and hopefully focus on writing!

Please pray for me 'cause this won't be easy. I think I may be a little ADD because I get distracted so easily and have a hard time sitting still and writing. I also hate the thought of all the work that will pile up. Which makes it incredibly hard not to check email since so much of what I do is relational and communication oriented via email with event leaders, speakers, radio requests, friends and family.

Yes, it'll be hard but I know my God can harness all that in me and keep me focused. I just need His help, His inspiration and Divine focus to write the words He has already penned. Afterall, I am working on my "I can..." chapters. So here I go...I can stay focused. I can fast from email for a few days. I can finish this book proposal!

Do you need a time out? If so, I give you permission and a blessing to pull away and focus on something you've really wanted and needed to do - but can't seem to find time to do it!

Enjoying my time in the corner!


Failure often makes me want to give up, mainly on myself. On Wednesday, I heard from woman after hurting woman saying they had given up – mainly on themselves.They were ready to quit. They were beat down. But that day, they felt God reaching down for their hand offering to hold it and help them get up – so they wouldn’t give up!

Aren’t you tired of wanting to give up?

Somehow discouragement becomes our go-to emotion. It became mine as a young girl and followed me into my adult years.

But one day, I decided I was tired of letting the enemy win. I was tired of allowing defeat and discouragement to set in. I was tired of feeling like failure is final.

God challenged me to believe that “greater is HE who is in me” than the one who was trying to defeat me.

Although Christ rescued me from the pit when I was 21, it took me ten years of being a Christian before I realized I was saved, but I wasn’t completely surrendered.

I am convinced so many children of God walk in discouragement and defeat because they are saved but not completely surrendered moment-by-moment to God’s thoughts, God’s will, God’s perspective, God’s power. They are still trying to change and live in their own strength. And nothing changes so they give up - on themselves and God.

And that is just where the enemy wants us! If he can’t separate us from God’s love, he’ll do all he can to keep us from experiencing Love’s transforming power.

What does Love’s transforming power look like when we fail forward? I don't have all the answers for sure, but I have some thoughts that are tumbling in my soul that have helped me
surrender to Christ's life in me, so that I could experience victory over the darkness and discouragement in different ways each day...

At work – When I fail to meet other’s expectations, I just need to stop and ask myself– what am I responsible to do? Is there anything I am not doing to fulfill my commitment? If so, what do I need to do to live up to my promise? What do I need to say no to so that I can say yes to be an excellent employee who is working “as unto the Lord” in all that I do?

We need to stop the habit of beating ourselves up with so much critical thinking. What are we doing talking to a child of God the way we talk to ourselves? When criticism comes, if we have done our best, we can rest in knowing that we did the best we could. You can say, “I was faithful with the little things and I am believing God to entrust me with a little more. And I will trust His timing. If He doesn’t provide the way I want, I will not accuse myself of disappointing Him. I will remind myself of what I have done and I will keep being faithful and watching for His faithfulness.” If we didn't we give grace to ourselves and try again - moving in forward motion.

At Home – We cannot keep up with all that it takes to cook, clean, care for kids and husbands, serve our families and everyone else that needs something. We need to sit down once a week and acknowledge God in all our ways by sitting down with Him to plan out our days. We need to plan them in such a way that we can “smile at the days ahead.” Most of us have completely unrealistic expectations of ourselves. But God doesn't!

What is realistic for you to accomplish in one day? Write it down and leave room for the unexpected. If you find that you weren’t able to do as much as you thought, then the next week plan less.

Say no to all those requests for your time. Yes, we need to serve others, but if you can’t take care of your family in a healthy balanced way, then you have no business trying to serve in a ministry outside your home. Your family is God’s number one assignment/ministry. Don’t let anyone guilt you into doing something at the church or at the school if it costs you your family. Look for creative ways for them t serve with you so they learn the value of servanthood, but balance is key.

None of us had any idea what we were getting into when we got married or had kids, did we? I know I need lots of help and guidance every day in these departments. I have got to fill my mind with God's Word and become familiar with all His ways to be able to love my husband and my kids the way He loves me. And that is the goal. To surrender to God loving them through me.

It's not about shaping and molding them into who I want them to be so I can get the life I always wanted. Although, believe me that was my goal early on. But a few years ago God got a hold of my selfish ambition and showed me that my pursuit of the "happily ever after" isn't about me - it's all about HIM! He gave me this man to love and these kids to nurture so that they can become all that God created them to be.

So, I do the best I can. And when I fail, I apologize. Almost every day I am saying I am sorry, will you forgive me? for something, to somebody. Asking for forgiveness humbles me and releases me from guilt because I know I walk in God's forgiveness and grace.

Spiritual Growth
I read my Bible regularly and memorize God's word so that I know His thoughts towards me and can run into His arms to be assured of and guided by His truth each day. And I read a lot of solid Christian growth, marriage and parenting books. I look for ways to apply what I am reading and learning. I don't just read to gain knowledge, I read to be changed. I don't want to stay the same. "God loves me just the way I am but He cares about me too much to leave me this way. He wants me to become just like Jesus." (Max Lucado)

And when I fail, I choose to fail forward...

Because I am a woman who is becoming all God created her to be.

A woman who is growing.

A woman who is getting better and better each day.

A woman who is not perfect - but who is trying to surrender to God's perfect love and perfect power at work in her, one day, one moment at a time. What about you?


Give-away winners

Renee and Cullen is the winner from last Friday - which includes 2 copies of The Uncommon Woman: Making an Ordinary Life Extraordinary by Susie Larson. One for you and one for a friend.

Cheryl at brian_n_cheryl@hotmail.com is the winner of Wednesday's give-away, "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young. One of my favorite devotion books!

Choosing One Thing

The opportunity to choose one thing - one thing that is "most important in my life" not to fail in- just presented itself. This morning my son Joshua woke up and said, "Mom, I want today to be my day."

Each year for their birthday we let our kids choose a day off school to be at home with just me and do whatever they want for the day, as long as they are caught up and did well on progress reports. Well, Joshua's 14th birthday is Sunday and next week is End of Grade tests. So, he chose today! And today I am choosing him!

That means I have to "fail" at keeping some of my promises - like writing on my blog this morning about specific areas we struggle with most , working at the P31 office today, catching up on overdue email responses.

It's not easy to choose to say no to one thing and yes to another - especially when someone is probably going to be let down. But we each have to make those hard choices if we are going to fail forward. It's no coincidence God is giving me this opportunity to choose. But I know in my heart that I am choosing "one thing" that is really important to God and to me - I am keeping a promise to my child. Plus I get to spend the day with someone I am totally crazy about!

So, what is one thing that you are going to do today? What is one choice you can make to ensure your heart that when you lay your head on the pillow tonight you can say, "I did __________. And that is one step closer to me becoming the woman God created me to be."

Tomorrow I will keep my promise to you - to post more specific ways we can fail forward in those areas we tend to experience the most defeat. And I'll announce some give-away winners, too. Be sure to read yesterday's post as a follow up to my devotion "Failing Forward." But first, let us know your "one thing" so we can all pray for each other today!


Rising Again
"...though a righteous (woman) falls seven times, (she) rises again." Proverbs 24:16a

Thanks for stopping by today! If you found your way here from my P31 devotion, I'm so glad you stopped by. I promised to share some practical ways we can fail forward with God’s help in areas where we most often feel defeated.

Failing forward is about rising again and doing the best you can the next time. It's also about giving yourself grace when your best isn't as good as you want it to be.

If you really want to move forward when you have a setback, first determine one or two areas of your life that are most important for you to start seeing progress. Then ask yourself these questions:

What makes you feel like you are failing in each area? (when I yell, when I overeat, when I lie, when I...)

List common things that keep you from succeeding? (tiredness, busyness, unorganized)

How do you feel when you fail in those areas? (depressed, angry, sad)

Who can determine the actions you take or reactions you have?

What is one change you can make so that you see at least a little progress in one area?

Now, ask God to show you how you can take one step forward with His help in that area. Then another.

Set a goal or boundary, that you will commit to today to keep from falling again. Then stick to it. I know you can and I'll be praying for you!!!

Please also ask God to show you the progress you’ve made and how you are becoming the woman He created you to be. We need to encourage our hearts and notice our progress or we'll always feel defeated!

Also, click here to read why it's important that we don't give up, and how we can learn to get up and keep going! But first, let me know how I can pray for you today by sharing your thoughts and goals in today's comments.

Tomorrow I'll share some more thoughts in specific areas, and I'll do a fun give-away from your comments today - so be sure to leave your email, too! I'll announce last week and this week's winners on Friday!

An update on KIM - please keep praying!!!
Here is an update from my friend Kim's mom, Linda. Like Kim, she is an amazing woman!! In fact, second to the image of God I see in Kim, I see so much of Kim's mom in her - amazing strength, immeasurable love for her children, grace and faith in an unchanging, all-loving God!

From Linda...

Kim wanted me to be sure and update everyone on her visit to oncologist today. He discussed results of last friday's scans. Unfortunately the report did not contain much that we wanted to hear. The current treatment, faslodex to reduce the estrogen has not been at all successful. She has been on it for 2 1/2 months and the lesions in liver have increased in size, one, for example, from 1 cm to 3 cm and there are "areas of nodularity" in her lung also. This area in lung was previously labeled as a density and really made to sound insignificant but now has been labeled as nodular with a few more densities developing.

Her oncologist seemed to be so much not wanting to give us unhappy news that he just sort of went on to next topic of conversation. So, I asked him point blank, "Are you saying that these areas in lung are areas of malignancy in her lung?" He said he presumes so, but that they are very very small, which is good. But with malignancy now in eye and tumor markers on the rise, it is time to move on to another chemo.

She will start doxil this week on Friday. It is given intravenously every 3 weeks. She will also start radiation to her eye tomorrow, but they do not want her to have radiation and chemo on same day so she will skip radiation this Friday while she has 1st dose of new chemo. Then next Monday continues on with radiation for completion of 10 treatments. After 2 cycles of doxil she will have more scans to see if things are responding and shrinking.

She is having muga heart scan tomorrow to make sure heart is ok before starting doxil since it can cause damage to heart muscle, so need a baseline. So this week is full of appts and she will be busy going to radiation daily for next couple of weeks. We are really hoping for good results with this radiation for eye since it is becoming more uncomfortable and distressing with the visual disturbances --and -more difficulty with reading.

Kim wants to be sure that you know that, although this was not the best of news, that she does not consider it something for everybody to "get all upset about" --- she is still fighting and still believing that she is a child of a loving God who will sustain her and give her everything she needs to accomplish her goals -- We read a beautiful thought for the day on the Positive Christianity website Monday that Kim wants me to leave you with:

"Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and established thou the works of our hands upon us” Psalms 90:17

You empty your mind of thoughts of fear, and fill your mind with thoughts of peace, praise, and expectation of God's good. You know that you are God's beloved child, heir to all God's good. God's Divine love uplifts, renews, and prospers you.

In the Bible God says to you, “I will pour down upon you a blessing so great that you will not have room to hold it.” Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could live like this?

My sweet friends, it comforts my heart to know that together we can lift up Kim and her mom who is taking care of Kim this week and trying to juggle so many appointments and needs while Mike is gone. Prayer is powerful! I am holding onto God's promises and claiming them for my friend! Thanks for joining me in lifting her and her family continuously up to God's care!

Have you noticed any changes?
Thank you SO MUCH for all of your prayers, promises and notes to Kim. Her appointment went well and another CT scan was done today. For a detailed update, visit her CaringBridge page at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/kimwhisenant

Okay, I'm switching gears and I have some very important questions for you: Have you noticed any changes God has made in your life - recently or in the past? Do you ever doubt that you will change?

Why do I ask? Well, I'm working on my book proposal, outlining the final chapters which are focused on the promise of what is possible when we live beyond the shadows of our doubts and find confidence in Christ!

I need to finish my "I can" chapters and I really, really want your input!!

I'm working on a chapter focused on the promise: I can change. In it, I share that when we become Christians - we become new creations. We live in Christ and Christ lives in us. Because He lives in us through the Holy Spirit, we have the hope of being transformed into His likeness. Therefore, we have hope for change! We don't have to stay the same.

I think it's easy to get bogged down in bad habits and day-to-day frustrations with ourselves and what we wish were different. Sometimes I don't even notice what has changed about me. But God's been encouraging me to see the difference He's made in my life and celebrate the changes - even as little as they may seem, even if they only last for a day or a minute.

Like today when my Diet Dr.Pepper fell off the table and exploded in my kitchen - spraying dark brown, sugar-coated foam across the wall, chairs, table and floor. Without Christ, I would have exploded with it! I would have been so mad at myself a for making such a mess and frustrated that it was going to make me late as I tried to get ready to leave town.

But something in me, the Holy Spirit, reminded me that He's in control and that the fruit of His Spirit in me is joy, patience and self-control. My natural response would have ruined all that fruit!

In that moment, I allowed Christ in me to come alive by submitting to His prompting to simply give myself some grace, get paper towels and wet rags and clean it up. The whole time I smiled and thanked God for the progress He's made with my "inner control freak" not freaking out so much anymore.

I am also a different wife and mom than I was 10 years ago. I am more content with who I am, and I never thought that would happen. Oh, the list goes on and on.

So, I am wondering...
  • What difference has Jesus (in you) made in your life? What changes have you noticed (in your heart or in someone else)?

  • If you were describing to a friend the promise and possibility of change because of God's transforming power available to those who believe, what examples of "hope-for-change" would you share from your own life?

  • In what areas do you think women long for change the most?
I don't want only my story in this book; I want yours! So just in case you need some incentive, I'm going to bribe you :->. I'll be drawing names from the comments under today's post, and giving away 2 copies of The Uncommon Woman: Making an Ordinary Life Extraordinary by Susie Larson. One for you and one for a friend. You will both love it!

Ps. Leah and I are driving to Lavonia, Ga for an event tomorrow morning and then to Stony Point, NC for a Mother's and Others Dinner tomorrow night. Would treasure your prayers for these eventes, the messages, the women coming and all our traveling adventures!

Happy weekend and Happy Mother's Day to all my favorite moms!

Praying for Kim
I get to spend some special time today with my friend Kim. We used to be next-door-neighbors, too. I'm really looking forward to it, although I wish we were going shopping or doing something fun instead of what we have planned.

Today we are going to the Cancer center for Kim to meet with her doctor about a new tumor they found. Kim was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer two years ago and this week she found out there is a tumor on the back of her eye.

Two years ago when they found Kim's cancer, it had spread throughout her body in her bones. She had several tumors in her spine, her pelvic bones, legs and shoulders. Immediately they started radiation, chemotherapy, and all kinds of treatment to shrink and block the cancer from spreading.

Kim has been fighting and praying hard to win the battle. I have been amazed by her strength and grace, and absolute dependence on God. Her faith in Him inspires me! She has grown to such a tender and believing place in who He is and how much she can trust Him.

I've watched this mother of three constantly point her children to God for hope and encouragement. I've seen her be present for them like He is for her. More than anything she wants her kids to know that God is always with them and has a plan for their lives.

I have to admit that it has been so hard to watch a friend go through so much suffering. I cry out to God almost daily for a miracle. I ask "why" and wonder what His plan is in allowing a mom of three children - 4, 7 and 12 - to go through this with them watching and wondering. They are so worried about their mom and so sad to see her feeling so sick. And Michael, her husband, so wants to fix it as any man would.

Kim has been in tremendous pain and her discomfort has increased due to more tumors in her spine and other bones. She also has some small tumors on her liver they are watching.

I've been praying for ways to encourage and bless Kim and her family. Mother's Day is coming and I wanted to do something really special for her. I know the greatest gift I can give is prayer, God's promises and loving on her family!

So, today I wanted to see if you will help me bless Kim. Will you join me in praying for Kim, her husband Michael, and her kids Jessica, Grace and Matthew?

And would you be willing to leave a prayer for them (maybe with a promise) in the comments below. I will print them and put them in a keepsake box. I want them to know that people from all over are lifting them up and believing God for healing and miraculous hope no matter what the future holds. This will mean so much to her (and me too)!

"Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished." Luke 1:45

Worth the Climb
We had this really steep hill that lead out to the main entrance of our old neighborhood. One afternoon I decided Joshua and I needed to conquer it by riding our bikes to the top.

As I peddled up the huge incline in 1st gear, I wondered why in the world I volunteered to oo it! My calves were burning so bad as I spun my feet in circles, moving those pedals so fast while barely moving the tires at all. I felt like I was on a stationary bike!

As I struggled up the long hill, I tried to inspire myself by chanting this little rhyme, "Going up is a killer, but coming down will be a thriller!" Somehow focusing on the promise of coming down, helped me endure the pain of getting up.

Finally we made it to the top, caught our breath for a minute and then rode down the hill with with the wind in our faces and our feet in the air.

When we got to the bottom Joshua immediately shouted, "Hey, let's do that again!"

"Forget it!" I thought. I wanted to ride on level ground, where only moderate effort would be required at least for a little while.

Do you ever feel like life's mountains are gonna kill you? Does the climbing ever get so hard that you want to quit and coast for a while?

Me, too. I think God brought this story to mind today to help me climb some "steep hills" ahead of me. Maybe you are facing some, too.

Life is always full of challenges for each of us. Whether it's our finances and getting out of debt or cutting way back on expenses. Or going to a friend and being honest about some hard things. Or setting aside extra time to spend with our kids who need more attention that we've been giving. Maybe it's a tough situation at the office or in our marriage that requires the hard work of forgiveness.

Just last week I was climbing a "mountain" with one of my kids and it was breaking my heart. They had done something I clearly asked them not to do, and deceitfulness was exposed.

I needed God's perspective. I needed a promise. So I started praying for one, and God provided. Just like the little rhyme I chanted while riding the bike up that hill, I started saying God's words to myself out loud again and again throughout my day.

His promise gave me hope as I let it become a part of my thinking - engraved on my heart and in my thoughts - cheering me on and reminding me that this hill would be worth the climb and eventually I would see rewards on the other side.

I know that sometimes we don't get to see the rewards on this side of Heaven or enjoy a coast downhill in certain struggles, but many times we do if we look. I sometimes just need to ask God to show me the blessings in obedience, the rewards that make our mountains worth the climb.

So, are you climbing or coasting this week? Is there a promise you're clinging to?

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4