A CHRISTMAS PRAYER Thank you, Father, for your grace, Shown to me in countless ways— Favor, truly undeserved, Full acceptance, unreserved; Forgiveness, free and complete, Though, my errors, I still repeat; Your help in every trouble, Your mercy when I stumble. With a heart of gratitude, I worship you. You are good— God of Truth and God of Love, God, who came down from above; And, in Jesus, bared your heart, From you, Lord, I won’t depart. When I’m tempted here below, Spirit, help me keep this vow Faithfully, until the end, Until the day, I ascend; That when I see you face to face There’ll be no shame to erase. God, sustain me by your grace; Make me good in all my ways.
God is for us no-matter-what When hard things put you on pause, View your blessings, not your loss. It may not be due to flaws; Listen and you’ll know the cause. God is for you no-matter-what. Don’t let your heart dwell on doubt; If you do, you’ll suffer drought. Rise each morning with a shout. Compose a song of gratitude; It will improve your attitude, Help you escape an ugly mode, Activate your giving code. God is for you no-matter-what. Don’t let your heart dwell on doubt; If you do, you’ll suffer drought. Rise each morning with a shout At Christmas time, remember this — It’s a time to give and to bless. Even if your life’s a mess, There are others who have less. God is for them, as well as you. By what you say and what you do, Help them know this is true. Truth and righteousness pursue. God is for us no-matter-what. Let’s not allow our hearts to doubt; If we do, we’ll suffer drought. Rise each morning with a shout! Jane Ault 12/10/2021
We can choose to be sad or choose to be glad. By expressing thanks for the blessings we’ve had, Our joy will increase and we’ll conquer disease; Infections weaken when we have inner peace. Even in solitude, we can pursue gratitude, It’s a healthy, life-giving attitude. If we are still breathing, that’s the place to start Let’s not take for granted a beating heart. Each day and each hour is a gift treasure; Understanding this truth bring us pleasure. It frees us from resentment and fear, And gives us courage to love and share; Though sharing with others what we’ve been given, We will find joy on this side of heaven.
Hide is a common word. Abide is an uncommon one. They sound similar. They are opposites To hide is to disconnect. To abide is to connect. To hide is to lose hope and strength. To abide is to receive hope and power. I can hide from God Or I can abide with him. Hiding leads to confusion, loneliness, pain. Abiding brings clarity, joy, peace, comfort. It’s safe to come out from my hiding places— Fear, guilt, and shame, because Jesus loves me. He died for me. He calls me to abide, to stay with him, Stay in LOVE; accept it. Swim and splash in it. Share it with others.
What a marvelous gift! Unexplainble mystery. God speaks to me. I speak to him. I hear him. He hears me. Honesty. Oh what honesty I must have when I come to him. He sees me as I am. In ways I cannot comprehend, He is able to access my deepest heart. I used to be afraid of this. Before I knew grace, I thought God was an angry judge. I did not see his face of love. It's different now. I gladly receive his correction, his re-direction. Hallelujah! Sometimes, I cannot find words. Quietness is enough. Prayer, a time to share hearts. God's heart. My heart.
I have not seen my sister’s grave, Though via Zoom I saw the place My heart still weeps in unbelief A twin cannot be replaced. I want to sing with her again Enter into heaven’s space I know I will in future time God’s promise cannot be erased That hope causes me to smile While tears run down my face
My journey of faith struggles into hope is available. Preview and purchase Songs of Joy in the Valley of Tears HERE
What do you focus on when you feel anxious? Your pounding heart? Your tight throat? Your racing thoughts? I've done that and anxiety escalates. Several times, I've ended up in the ER. Gradually, I've learned anxiety doesn't need to control my life. I can control it. The following story is an example. For many years, when we traveled beyond the boundaries of the familiar roads my husband and I normally take, he did most of the driving. That’s not because I was incapable of navigating more crowded highways. It was because John enjoyed driving, and I enjoyed relaxing or reading books. The problem was: I gradually lost confidence in my driving ability. I didn’t realize this had happened until I needed me to make an eight-hour trip by myself. My immediate thought was, “I can’t handle this! I’ll have an accident!” I felt almost panic level anxiety. Were those feelings a red light signaling me to stop? In some instances, intense anxiety could be warning me of danger, and it would not be wise to proceed. Sometimes, the opposite is true. Anxiety is a green light, telling me to go ahead; it’s safe to proceed. Emotions, such as anxiety, are like a “tree” with roots (core beliefs), limbs and branches (conscious thoughts), leaves (feelings) and fruit (attitudes and behavior). Read more about this in Emotional Freedom If we focus on the feeling-part of anxiety, it can overwhelm us. We will automatically act as if it’s a red light and stop forward movement. When we continue to allow feelings of intense anxiety to determine our direction in life, these are the consequences. We become more and more anxious. We withdraw from people and avoid doing things. We stay home. Our world becomes smaller and smaller. And we feel increasingly incompetent and unable to handle anything unfamiliar in life. Instead of focusing on the feeling-part of anxiety, it’s helpful to turn our attention to the thinking-part of anxiety. We can ask God to show us our thoughts about anxiety and whether they're based on truth or lies. By asking appropriate questions and considering all the possible actions (behaviors) we might take, we can determine whether our anxiety is a red light warning us of actual danger; a yellow light telling us we need to slow down and prepare ourselves for success; or a green light telling us it’s wise to ignore our anxious feelings and keep moving ahead. I decided my driving-related anxiety was a yellow light signaling me to slow down, not a red light signaling me to stop. I looked at my destination and determined the route that would be easiest for me to drive. I scheduled the time I'd be driving through large cities so that I could avoid rush hour traffic. I asked friends to pray for me. After that, I decided that anxiety was a green light. I made the trip without my husband. Did I feel totally at peace while driving? No, I did not. A couple of times, I got lost. My heart pounded. I felt like crying. I stopped, prayed, felt calmer, and got back on the road. When I finally reached my destination, I felt very tired, very thankful, very happy, and much more confident in my ability to drive. Questions to Consider:
- In what situations do you think of anxiety as a red light? A yellow light? A green light?
- If it’s a red light, what good things is it keeping you from doing?
- How could you prepare yourself to safely “feel the fear and do it anyway”?
Have you ever accomplished something good and felt embarrassed about it, even though others around you thought you did great and congratulated you? That’s what recently happened to me.
My pastor, Jim Holt, invited me to talk with him about my book, Songs of Joy in the Valley of Tears. He planned on 30 minutes of sharing, but I was so excited I went far over the time limit. Secondly, what was designed to be a dialogue became more of a monologue. Neither of those things was huge problems for Jim. The Hope Chat would be edited before it went online. Jim said to me, “You did great!” (Here it is) Yet, the next day I woke up feeling terrible. So embarrassed.
“Jesus,” I prayed, “What is the problem? Why do I feel so terrible?” As I listened quietly for some insight, the above Scripture verse popped up in my mind. I recognized the terrible feeling as a “shame attack”. I had tuned in to my old way of unhealthy thinking in which perfectionism and denial of certain emotions were rules for successful living.
So my not-completely-transformed conscience, still functioning under law instead of grace, punished me.
According to my old rules (laws) of living it was not okay to admit to feelings of grief, loneliness, or anger. Especially anger. I talk about all of these emotions in my book on grief and mentioned them in my chat with Jim. According to my old rules of living, I broke a “don’t talk about this” rule, so I must be punished. (Shaming ourselves is a form of self-punishment.)
Thankfully, after my conversation with Jesus, the shame feeling left. Unhealthy ways of thinking cannot hang around long when confronted by the truth-seeing eyes and grace-filled, loving arms of Jesus.
If you have been taught to believe you must hide your feelings of loneliness, anger, and grief, it may be hard to believe otherwise. Spend some talking to Jesus about them. He can free you from the heavy load of shame . . . the need to look good, be perfect, and hide your grief.
On April 1, 2020, I wrote in my diary that social distancing and other restrictions to prevent the pandemic from spreading would be extended for 30 days. Along with most people, I never imagined the massive spread of disease and loss of life that would occur in the year ahead. In the eyes, speech, and movements of those around me, I see and hear signs of weariness. Can we find the strength to “hang on a little longer” as many health care workers urge us to do?
I believe we can.
On this Easter weekend, I find renewed comfort and hope for strength in the promises of Scripture, such as the one quoted above. You can find that verse and the following poem on pages 190 and 191 of my book, Songs of Joy in the Valley of Tears
God's Promise of Strength God will strengthen my mortal body; That's the word I heard him say. God will strengthen my mortal body: That's the one I possess, today. God will strengthen my mortal body. It may be old, but it's not decayed. God will strengthen my mortal body, If from wisdom I don't stray. God will strengthen my mortal body. I will trust him and obey. God will strengthen my mortal body; That's the promise he made to me. God will strengthen my mortal body And raise it up on resurrection day. Jane Ault
“Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”1 Thessalonians 4:17 NLT
The pandemic which began in 2020 resulted in unimaginable and unexpected grief for the entire world. If you are one of the many people who lost a loved one during that time or in 2021, I hope you will reach out to Jesus who loves us far more than we can imagine.
Jesus’s amazing statement, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying” (John 11:25 NLT, along with the promise that he will return gives me great comfort and hope that I will be reunited with my sister who passed from this earth on June 11, 2020.
As I remember these promises, I find the grace to grieve. After a three-month break, I am writing blog posts, again. My hope is that as I share my story, you will find the courage to share yours.
The grace to grieve is the grace to cleave–
Cling to Jesus when I’m tempted to leave,
Find in him strength for today,
When my sister, my friend, has gone away.
The grace to grieve is the grace to believe
Others can help me if I choose to receive
Them into my journey and openly weep.
We are all wounded and hurting sheep.
The grace to grieve is the grace to care
About others in pain, choose to be “there”.
When I choose to be present in their journey
My faith and love become more sturdy.
In grieving alone, we are never finished
Our sorrow is buried, not diminished.
In grieving, together, there are breakthroughs of laughter
In which we find strength for what will come after.
In grieving together, we discover fresh purpose
Actually, discover we have a surplus
Our hearts overflow with hope and love
And we share it with those who don’t have enough.