Praise Breaks the Power of the Curse

Whoever presents a thank [praise] offering honors me. To whoever obeys my commands, I will reveal my power to deliver
Psalm 50:23 (NET)

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
James 1:2-3 (NKJV)
[Jesus] is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.
Hebrews 7:25 (NLT)

Earlier this week, I woke up remembering the words of Psalm 50, verse 23. I received them as God’s instruction for the day. Clear and simple. Give thanks and sing songs of praise. Later in the day when feeling discouraged and tired, I remembered this instruction. I began singing. I began walking. The Spirit gave me a new song. As I sang the words, I felt strength in my body and joy in my heart.

I’ve been meditating on the above Scriptures and the words of my song all week, asking God for additional understanding. I’m sharing these words with you so that if you desire, you may meditate on them this weekend, as we remember the death and resurrection of Jesus, our Savior and Lord.

For those of you who, like me, tend to become despondent, may the words of this song renew your faith and increase your joy in Jesus.


Praise breaks the power of the curse
God puts Satan in reverse
Our gracious, loving Father
Protects his sons and daughters

Praise breaks the power 
Praise breaks the power
Praise breaks the power of the curse

Praise breaks the power of the curse
God puts Satan in reverse
The yoke of sin is broken
Prison doors stand open

Praise breaks the power 
Praise breaks the power
Praise breaks the power of the curse

Praise breaks the power of the curse
God puts Satan in reverse
From the cross there's flowing
Strength and grace and healing

Praise breaks the power 
Praise breaks the power
Praise breaks the power of the curse

Praise breaks the power of the curse
God puts Satan in reverse
Don't yield to despondency
Celebrate Christ's victory

Praise breaks the power 
Praise breaks the power
Praise breaks the power of the curse

Praise breaks the power of the curse
God puts Satan in reverse
By faith receive his gift to us
Dress in Jesus' righteousness

Praise breaks the power 
Praise breaks the power
Praise breaks the power of the curse

Praise breaks the power of the curse
God puts Satan in reverse
With faith continue singing
Our Lord is interceding

Praise breaks the power
Praise breaks the power
Praise breaks the power of the curse

True Freedom

We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. So stand strong. Do not change and go back into the slavery of the law.
(Galatians 5:1 NCV)

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.


The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.
    Everyone will praise him!
His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,
    with plants springing up everywhere.
Isaiah 61:11 (NLT)

 While death is spreading through the earth,
 God is working in ways unseen.
 Peace and righteousness will spring forth.
 Evil and injustice have no claim.
 Like seeds planted in fertile soil,
 Nurtured in love and faithfulness,
 Light-filled energy will prevail.
 I sing with joy and gratefulness.
 Join me, my friends, do not despair.
 Focus your eyes on Jesus, Give
 Him full attention. He is here.
 In his power and victory, live.
 Jane Ault

Why Do I Vote? Who do I Vote for?

“A naive person believes everything,
but the shrewd person discerns his steps.”
(Proverbs 14:15 NET
[Jesus said], While it is daytime, we must continue doing the work of the One who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.
(John 9:4 NCV)

Why do I vote? Who do I vote for?

The usual answers to the “why I vote ” question are

  • It’s a privilege
  • It’s an honor
  • It’s my responsibility
  • I can exert influence on politicians

Beyond that, voting causes me to clarify what I believe and take a stand for it. It tells me something about myself. I want to be shrewd, not stupid or naive, i.e, lacking in experience, judgment, or information.

Though I might lack experience in politics, I can become informed and learn how to make wise judgments. In making decisions about who to vote for, I consider more than presidential debates.

Here are some questions I ask myself when answering the “who do I vote for” question?

  • Do I think through what I believe and why I believe it?
  • Or I let others choose for me?
  • Do I take into account the character of the candidate or do I disregard it?
  • Do I consider all of the issues or just pick my favorite one?
  • Must I vote totally for one party or could I split my vote?
  • If my friends or family are strongly in favor of one candidate or party do I automatically vote with them?
  • If I vote differently, am I willing to share that decision?
  • What place does my faith have in determining how I vote?

As the above Proverb tells us, there’s a danger in being naïve.  We have a tendency to take shortcuts and to make quick judgments and hasty decisions without thoughtfully examining evidence and asking pertinent questions.

We can be tricked into believing safe people are dangerous and dangerous people are safe. How do we know who is safe and who is not?

Jesus compared people to sheep. He was called the “Good Shepherd”. He displayed his goodness in the way he treated people and in the way he honored Our Father in heaven. He lived a life of perfect love and integrity, truthful in all his interactions and fair in all his decisions.

He warned us about people who claim they are “good” but are actually thieves. He called them “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” He did not say, “Beware of sheep in wolves’ clothing” because a sheep never wears a wolf’s clothing. Sheep are not out to deceive people. They’re just set on following a path and they need guidance in order to find the right path. They need a shepherd.

When Jesus looked at the crowds of people in the world around him, he said that they were like sheep without a shepherd. I don’t think much has changed since his day. The world is full of sheep. Sheep can easily be deceived. They need a shepherd.

That shepherd needs to be a safe person. A safe person is someone with integrity. Someone who never deceives us. Someone who always tells the truth. Someone who is patient, kind, and good. Someone who does not expect perfection. Someone who does not condemn us when we fall down. Someone who walks beside us and helps us recognize dangers, not only points them out but teaches us to recognize the dangers ourselves. Someone who teaches us how to have discernment.

We need to ask questions. Appearances can be deceiving. A safe shepherd does not go around comparing one sheep with other sheep. They are all equally cared for and protected. He or she does not condemn sheep. He or she does not go around causing divisions among the sheep. A safe shepherd brings sheep together and teaches them to live in peace, unity, and understanding.

Because his or her self-worth is settled, a safe shepherd confidently makes decisions. He or she is not looking for approval or even acceptance. Nor is a safe shepherd hungry for power or control. A safe shepherd has control of his or her own life, shows us how to gain control of ourselves, and assists us in escaping the control of abusive shepherds.

When I look at the world today, I’m concerned. I see a lot of naïve sheep and very few safe shepherds. Yet I do not despair because Jesus is still alive. As we look to him, listen to his words, and follow the guidance of the Spirit he has given us, we will gain discernment and not be deceived by wolves dressed as shepherds.  

Finding Peace in the Midst of COVID-19 Devastation

He [God] will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the dimly burning flame. He will encourage the fainthearted, those tempted to despair. He will see full justice given to all who have been wronged. (Isaiah 42:3 NLT)

Is “devastation” not an appropriate word to describe the condition of this country and the world? Often, I weep. My heart pounds. I can’t sleep. I feel outraged. I don’t want to express this with hurtful and destructive words. Neither do I want to hide in fear.

What do I do? I pray. I spend time in silence. With Jesus. I sit on my deck or go for a walk and view the clouds, trees, water, sunset. I listen to singing birds and quacking geese.

After a while I have peace. The Spirit stirs up a new melody in my heart. I write a song or poem. The following is an example. May your heart be encouraged as you read it.

Troubled heart, remember Jesus
He is good. He is kind
To the fallen, he shows mercy
He’s the healer of your mind
In the midst of deep anxiety
When you’re tossing in the night
Ask the Spirit for discernment
Receive his comfort and insight

He says, "My child, I love you
"Come closer to me
"You were a captive to Evil
"I died to set you free."
Fearful heart, call on Jesus
No one’s higher than he
In his strong arm, he will hold you
When in the smoke you cannot see
In the night of terror and darkness
When all normal help is gone
What you knew is nonexistent
Listen to your Savior’s song

He says, "My child, I love you
"Come closer to me
"You were a captive to Evil
"I died to set you free."
Anxious heart, cling to Jesus
Treasures of this world are dung
Unless you’re willing to release them
You won’t win the victor’s crown
In a time when many shout
“Arm yourself!” or “Retreat!”
Stand for justice, love, and mercy
Stay with Jesus on the street

He says, "My child, I love you
"Come closer to me
"You were a captive to Evil
"I died to set you free."
Jane Ault

A Plea to President Trump for Repentance

“A tree is known by its fruit.” The Gospel of Matthew

I am writing this post out of a deep concern about the message President Trump is sending to the world about Christianity through his behavior. I cannot imagine Jesus Christ acting and speaking as he does. My heart weeps.

Some of you may be his supporters. I do not hate you or him. If you vote for him again, I will not hate you. I cannot endorse his re-election. I hope you will read what I’ve written and will ask God for discernment.

If you need carefully documented evidence of his unfitness, I recommend reading “The Spiritual Danger of Donald Trump” edited by Ron Sider.

It’s thirty essays written by Christian scholars who love Jesus. They are not vindictive. They are compassionate and respectful. Some of them are Republicans, some are Democrats, and some are Independent. All of them speak the truth in love. They care about not only people of this nation but people in every nation.

Please consider President Trump’s behavior in light of the following two Scriptures.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8 NIV)  

Who may climb the mountain of the Lord and enter where he lives? Who may stand before the Lord? Only those with pure hands and hearts, who do not practice dishonesty and lying (Psalm 24:3-4 TLB)  

A Plea to Donald Trump for Repentance

God is in heaven.
Revere and respect him.

You are not in this office
Because of your goodness,
Because of your smartness,
Because of your greatness,
God’s our Protector,
Not you! He’s our Maker.
He loves all nations, all people;
With him, every human is equal.
He pays no attention to color of skin.
It tells nothing at all about what lies within.
Don’t call yourself “Greatest”,
Or assume that’s your status
Before God Almighty!
Don’t take warnings lightly.
If you don’t stop lying,
You’re in danger of dying
And facing his wrath;
At proud mockers, he laughs.
It says that in the Bible.
Repent while you’re able:
Care for the immigrant,
The poor and indigenous,
Show respect for women,
Don’t treat them as stupid.

They know how to reason.
Hear all who’ve been wounded,
By you and by others;
God hates one who covers
Up sin! Unless you become honest,
You can’t claim his promise
Of safety and protection
Or eternal salvation;
Don’t honor the thief
and hold back relief
From the poor and needy;
Stop being greedy.
Put an end to your twitter,
Stop being bitter,
Be respectful, not caustic,
Don’t bash the agnostic.
Close your mouth, pay attention;
Please learn how to listen.
Seek peace with all people,
Return good for evil.
Use love as your weapon,
Not cruel words or a gun.
Much damage’s been done
By your uncontrolled tongue;
Don’t brag about your rating.
If you’re not relating
With the fruit of God’s Spirit,
Your work has no merit.
What I see and I hear
Fills me with despair.
My heart’s deeply grieved
By the way you’ve deceived
Your unquestioning supporters;
Who blindly take orders.
I cannot trust you.
How can I support you?
Do my words hit the mark?
God alone knows your heart.
He will show you what’s true
And what you must do,
If you humbly seek truth,
Don’t just accept what will soothe
Your conscience and mind;
Ask, “In what ways am I blind?”
For your eternal well-being
I am praying and pleading.

What it Takes to Finish Well

We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. 
The night is coming, and then no one can work.
(John 9:4 NLT)

In a conversation with a friend this week, I described my early activity in the church as “I thought I could do everything so I did”. Of course, I could not do everything well. Also, some things and some people got left out. Sadly, sometimes it was my children. I did not recognize my limitations and lacked boundaries. I had the problem that leaders of ancient times had. Dallas Willard describes them in his book, “The Great Omission”.

He says the primary reason kings of Judah and Israel failed was because “they took more upon themselves than was warranted”. In other words, they ignored the limits (boundaries) of human strength and stopped relying on God (acted independently from him). They did not finish well.

I want to finish the race God has given me to run. I want to finish it well. I want to hear Jesus say, “Well done!” I assume that’s something you, too, want to hear. It’s possible for every one of us.

God blessed me with grace, showed me my past errors, and forgave me. He’s been faithfully teaching me what it takes to finish well. No matter what we’ve done or failed to do when we come to him admitting our failures and committing to change he will forgive us. We can get back into the race.

Simply stated, there are two parts to finishing well: God’s part and my part. God’s part is grace. My part is a choice to receive God’s grace. Accordingly, I call my website “choosinggrace”.

The grace God offers includes forgiveness, mercy, faithfulness, strength, truth (revelation of reality), love, gifts of the Spirit, fruit of the Spirit and much more.

My choice to receive God’s grace involves effort. There’s a lot to learn. Yet, as I connect with Jesus, it’s restful, not stressful work. To finish well, I must learn and practice disciplines. Disciplines which successful followers of Jesus practiced. These include solitude, fasting, meditation, Scripture memory, prayer, confession, celebration, fellowship, giving, and more.

Setting a boundary for myself, which defines the race God has called me to do, and sticking to it is a difficult discipline to practice. It means saying “no” to people who might be disappointed. It means saying “no” to my own desires, even good desires which distract me and keep me from finishing at all.

This fall I am starting, again. I’ve reviewed what it is God has called me to do, made plans, and I’m acting on them. This week I said “no” to my desire to be involved in several worthwhile events. I want to finish well.

Questions to consider:
What is that you’ve heard Jesus call you to do?
What discipline do you most need to learn in order to finish well?

Design your life to do, today,
What you heard Jesus say
This requires that you plan
Though it’s not a written command
Without it, you will drift away
From what you heard the Spirit say
If you want to finish well
On this message you must dwell
You must, also, work your plan
And when you fail, just start again.
Do not think when you’re corrected
That you have been rejected
Remember Jesus loves you
Rejoice because he called you
Discipline is hard (that he knows)
Without it, no child ever grows.
Without correction, you’d be dreadful
Without correction, you’d have a head full
Of information, not examined
Of knowledge, not applied
Design your life to do,today,
What you heard Jesus say 
Jane Ault

Am I An App of My Telephone?

They only cared about pleasing themselves in that desert,
    provoked God with their insistent demands.
He gave them exactly what they asked for—
    but along with it they got an empty heart.
Psalm 106 (MSG)

Technology is a gift. I’m thankful for it. Yet, I can easily become distracted by it. Going without it would be like farming with yesteryear’s machinery. Very slow. Maybe slowing down would be a good idea.

Today’s poems reflect the struggle I have to stay in control of the very precious gift of time. The questions I’m asking are first of all for myself. I hope they cause you, also, to think about your use of technology.

When God’s people, in the past,
Pleaded for unworthy goals
God gave them their desires
But sent famine to their souls.
We must be careful what we ask for
When we pray to Our Father;
If we’re set on having own way,
It’s better not to bother.
I felt unhappy with my phone
So I purchased an upgrade
As I waited for it to download,
My happiness began to fade.
That night I could not sleep.
I lay wide-eyed in my bed.
That new phone had injected
Too much data in my head.
I wonder if that upgrade
Was truly a wise choice;
With that phone as my companion,
Will I hear the Spirit’s voice?
With it help me access God?
Can I Zoom into his presence?
Will he appear on YouTube?
Will I miss him if he’s absent?
Jane Ault

Finding balance in this technological world
What should I keep?
What should I discard?
Finding balance in this technological world
I’m easily distracted.
I get caught off guard.
Finding balance in this technological world
What will cause me to lose?
What will bring a reward?  
Finding balance in this technological world
What should be kept private?
What should be shared?
Finding balance in this technological world
God, I need wisdom.
This really is hard.
Finding balance with my computer,
My phone,
Finding balance in this technological world
God, please help me.
I can’t do it alone
Jane Ault

Finding Confidence to Finish Your Race

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:14 NLT)

This week the drain in our kitchen sink stopped working. I rinsed the grime and grease from my supper dishes, but the dirty water remained in the sink. I said to my husband, “We may need to call a plumber!”
“No!” I think I can fix it,” he said. “Well, okay! I said as I watched John crawl under the sink. “I hope you can do it.”

Thankfully, he did not become discouraged by my lack of confidence in his plumbing skills. Neither did he become discouraged when part of the under-the-sink portion of the pipe broke. He figured out how to repair it. When he finished the work, he smiled and said, “I did a good job!” In my book, he did a first-rate job. And he saved us hundreds of dollars.

Is it okay to have that kind of confidence? Can we feel good about the work we do? It’s not just okay. It’s necessary. Without the assurance that our hard work has worth, we will never accomplish much.

John is gifted with high mechanical intelligence. He learned the skills needed for repairing pipes. In addition, he asks God for knowledge and wisdom when using these skills. Therefore he confidently says, “I can fix it!”

I have the confidence to do the work God gifted me for. Write a blog post. Compose songs and poems. My confidence is not in my great creativity but in my faithful God who shows me new things. Because I’m confident his Spirit will speak to me, I take my telephone with me when I go for a walk. I prepare to record whatever poem or song he inspires me with.

I love the way that God has gifted each person for a task which he/she alone can do. How ridiculous it would be for me to envy John’s mechanical ability. I don’t say, “Oh, I wish I could fix a pipe the way you can!” I simply ask him to do what he can do and receive his help with a smile of gratitude.

He does not say “I wish I could write a poem the way you can.” Or, “I wish I could play the piano the way you do.” He simply listens to my poems and songs and receives encouragement.

Envy blocks us from finishing the race God has given us to run. Accepting and being content with what we’ve been given gives us the confidence to stay in the race until we reach the finish line.

Finishing our race does not depend on our perfect performance. It depends on God’s ability to perfect (complete) what he initiated.

Do you feel anxious about your ability to finish the race God gave you to run? Rest in this truth: “God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns” (Philippians 1:6 TLB).

I haven't reached perfection yet
there are many things still to correct
but I can live contentedly
because I know God speaks to me.
Perfection is His work, not mine
I have His peace, the Spirit’s sign
and with this knowledge I can grow
I need not fret and struggle so.
I'll walk with Him obediently
trust the Spirits' work in me
praise Him for His endless grace
and someday see Him face to face.

Jane Ault

A Day of Joy and Gladness

My poem, today, reflects the refreshment and joy Jesus gave me as I walked with him, observing the beauty and glory of his creation.

I hope there’s a place where you, also, can find beauty, silence your heart, and be strengthened by his grace. It doesn’t have to be a Sunday.

A day of joy and gladness
From labor, I will cease
More time alone with Jesus
Will bring me inner peace
A chance to get together
With people of like mind
To talk about our Savior
He is good and he is kind
It’s early when I wake
Dawn’s streaming in my window
I feel cool air on my cheek
It soothes my grief and sorrow
I stretch my legs and yawn
I can no longer sleep
I push back my covers
And stand upon my feet
I put on my coolest clothing
And start out on a walk
It is not a day for running
Already, it’s too hot
We are in for a scorcher
Another heat advisory
I delight to see the order
And beauty that surrounds me
White clouds are barely moving
Across the soft blue sky
The cool wind still is blowing
Osprey’s sing as I walk by
I see them on their ledge
I walk just half-a-mile
Then stop at the bridge
And linger for a while
Queen Anne's lacy blossom
Signals a treasury
My heart smiles in delight
As I recall that memory
For a mind that likes to race
To be silent seems a waste
Yet I deeply need this grace
I move on without haste.
Jane Ault

Reduce Resentment, Increase Joy

While in the middle of preparing breakfast, I ran upstairs to get my glasses. As I passed the bedroom, I noticed an open window. The bright morning sun was warming the air in the room. I didn’t take time to close it because my sausage was cooking. I didn’t want it to burn.

I said to my husband, “Will you please go upstairs, close that open window, pull down the shade, and close the drapes?
“Sure!” he said. “I’ll be glad to.”

“Will you please ” weren’t the words that first popped into my mind. This is what I thought of saying:
“You left the window open, again! Can’t you ever remember to close it on a hot morning?”
I’m glad I did not say those words. It would not have made for a happy breakfast conversation. Or good digestion.

That conversation illustrates one of the ways I’ve been learning to reduce resentment. It’s a four-step process.

  • Recognize my expectation
  • Convert it to a desire
  • Make a request
  • Accept the answer

Expectations are demands or laws we place on others, as well as ourselves. They are the shoulds of life. For example, my husband should remember to close the window. He should not need a reminder. I should not have to tell him what I want. He is obligated to meet my shoulds. When he doesn’t, I resent it. Hold a grudge. That’s how a wall of resentment builds.

Desires are different than expectations. They are my wants rather than laws. Neither my husband nor God is obligated to meet my desires. Yet, both of them often want to. That’s where making a request and prayer come in.

God respects me so much that he doesn’t automatically grant my desire. He waits for me to make a request. When he gives me what I ask for, I feel grateful. I thank him. When he denies that request, I have a choice. I can resent it or accept it.

To accept someone’s “No” does not mean I agree with it or like it. It simply means to recognize that person’s right to make their own decisions. I can disagree (have a different opinion) without getting defensive and ugly.

As I’ve experienced more and more of God’s love, the easier it’s become to accept his “No” answers. I don’t want to insist on having my own way so strongly that God gives it to me but I end up with dissatisfaction.

This happened to a group of his followers who insisted on having their way. Finally, God “gave them their request, but [he]sent leanness into their soul”.(Psalm 106:15 NKJV)

When I build resentment I starve my soul. My invisible inner self shrivels and begins to die. That is why I need to recognize my expectations, turn them into desires, ask for what I want, and receive grace to accept the answers I receive.

If you would like to learn more about reducing resentment and increasing joy, you might like to read my book Emotional Freedom: The Choices We Make. It’s available in e-book, hardcover, and softcover formats.

“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. (Luke 12:6,7 NLT)

Let go of expectations
The laws you place on others
Your father and your mother
Your sisters and your brothers
Release them from these burdens
And find release yourself
Confess your hypocrisy
Gain peace of mind and health
Don’t make demands on God
As if he owed it to you
Can someone made of dust
Tell Heaven what to do?
Match your heart and words
Turn from duplicity
Honor Christ as he deserves
Pursue integrity
Then go to him with your request
Having confidence he hears you
God provides for and protects
Those humble, like the sparrow
Jane Ault

What Hand Washing Will and Will Not Do

[Jesus said] “If anyone believes in me, rivers of living water will flow out from that person’s heart, as the Scripture says.” (John 7:38 NCV)

Careful hand washing is something I’ve practiced for years. I hate getting dirt under my fingernails. I don’t like sticky or greasy hands. This well-established habit has made it easy for me to remember to wash my hands during the pandemic.

Hand washing takes care of one kind of hygiene. It helps us protect our physical health. There’s another kind of hygiene which I don’t hear much about in the news media. I call it “heart washing”. Heart washing helps us protect our spiritual health. To Jesus, heart washing took priority over hand washing.

Does this mean we should neglect our hand washing? Hardly! However, in an interesting story told by his follower Matthew, Jesus did not bother with the usual “wash your hands before you eat” rule. (See the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 15.) His hungry followers went ahead and ate without washing their hands. The religious leaders of the day attacked him for not obeying the rules.

Jesus said to them. “Don’t you know that the food you put into your mouth goes into your stomach and then out of your body? But the words that come out of your mouth come from your heart. It is not what people put into their mouths that makes them unclean. It is what comes out of their mouths that makes them unclean”.

Jesus explained this more clearly by saying, “The words that come out of your mouth come from your heart. And they are what make you unfit to worship God. Out of your heart come evil thoughts, murder, unfaithfulness in marriage, vulgar deeds, stealing, telling lies, and insulting others. These are what make you unclean”.

Jesus is not talking about our physical heart here. He’s talking about our spiritual heart. In order to worship God (be close to him) we need to change our behavior and clean up our speech. God cares not only about our physical health. He notices and cares about how we treat others. He hears what we speak and how we speak to others.

I don’t want to eat unwashed food with dirty hands and become physically sick. I don’t want to spread the virus in what comes out of my mouth, should I would unknowingly carry COVID-19. Neither do I want to spread “death” through the words I speak. How do I and how do all of us receive the heart washing we need so that we can spread healing instead of “disease” through the words we speak?

Jesus invites all of us to come to him and receive a heart cleansing. “Have faith in me [he says] and you will have life-giving water flowing from deep inside you”. Faith in him means that we recognize there’s no way we can on our own clean up our hearts. We just plain miss things. Jesus sees us as we really are. When we come to him for help, he does not condemn us. He set us free. He gives us a new heart. A heart that looks like his. It’s full of love. When we live out of that new heart the words we speak bring healing.

Alone with Jesus
Alone with Jesus
Oh, what joy!
I hear him whisper words of love
Alone with Jesus
Oh, what peace!
I feel his presence by my side
Alone with Jesus
Comfort deep!
He sees my pain and deep fatigue
I sit in silence
In patience, wait
Do not speak a single word.
Alone with Jesus
I remain
‘Til, finally, my heart is healed
And, then, together,
He and I,
Compose new melodies of love.
Jane Ault
July 7, 2020

Processing Grief in An Antique Garden

This hay rake stands in the middle of a garden containing other antique farm equipment. Its polished surface contains no rust or dirt. For farmers in the area, it carries fond memories. For me, it stirs up a special memory of joy mixed with a tinge of sorrow.

While we were together for a week, celebrating our 70th birthday, my sister and I visited this place. Having grown up on a farm, the machinery interested us. We skipped along the path, looking at the displays, sharing memories, and bringing one another up-to-date. My brother, who was with us, put his head through one of the old cow stanchions. We all giggled and I took a picture.

Near the end of our walk, something else caught my attention. I noticed my sister was not keeping up with me. This was unusual, as she had always walked faster than me. It seemed hard for her to stand up straight. And her hand had a slight tremble. A little alarm went off in my head. What did these things mean?

I tried to push these changes out of my mind, but I felt some anxiety. Later, I found out these were signs of Parkinson’s disease. For my sister and me, this began a long journey of loss and grief. For her, it ended two weeks ago.

It has not ended for me. Last week, I shared part of this story and my poem of releasing her into the arms of Jesus. I felt the pain of separation. I cried. Her suffering was over. I felt relief and joy. I said to myself, “How well you are doing!”

That was the first week. This second week has been much harder. I’m sharing my story because, for many years, I lacked knowledge about how to grieve in a way that brings deep healing. I’m learning new things. Maybe some of you can relate to this. If so, I hope you will walk along with me in my journey of learning to process grief in a healthy way.

In my growing up years, I learned some helpful lessons about grief and some unhelpful ones. Some emotions were acceptable. Some were not. What did I do with them?

My first poem describes where I was in past journeys of grief. My second poem reflects where I am in this journey.

After the funeral the people go home
Does that mean their grieving is done?
For some it seems so, I don’t hear them say
Anything more than “she went away”!
They talk of memories that brought them gladness?
What do they do with all of their sadness?
They might bury their anger and bottle their tears
Does that mean those feelings disappear?
They go back to their jobs and act like it’s over
Don’t lose their temper, have perfect composure
Their friends tell them how well they are doing.
Is this really true? Who are they fooling?
Are they trying to be “holy”? Trying to look good?
By acting in the ways they were told they should
June 23, 2020
Jane Ault

Embrace grief. Do it wisely
Do it gently. Do it kindly
When feeling sad, put on red
Celebrate what you had
Cling to memories that made you glad
Let go of those that made you sad
This may take some time and work
Don’t cover up what occurred
Trust the friends you know can help you
Invite them to join you in your venue—
Your site of comfort and of safety
Take your time. Don’t be hasty
Don’t dump on them your pain or anger
Let Jesus always be your anchor
June 25, 2020
Jane Ault

Finding Comfort in the Midst of Loss

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. (1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT)

It’s been seven weeks since I’ve written anything on this site. (This is only partly due to the fact I broke my glasses, as previously stated on May 1.) My mind and heart have been occupied with the physical deterioration of my closest kin. On June 11, my twin sister transitioned from this earth to heaven.

She had struggled with Parkinson’s disease for about 12 years. Then, more recently, cancer. I am comforted that her suffering is over. At the same time, I feel lonely and sad. My child-heart wants to believe she is just hiding, playing a game of “hide and seek” like we did when we were children. After a while, my heart will accept the truth. For now, I am not even trying to convince it. I am looking at photos I have of my sister’s smiling face.

I believe she is smiling, and her vision, which had also deteriorated, is perfect. Her weak legs are strong. No more need for a walker. No more difficulty in speaking. She’s singing with a clear and beautiful voice. No more pain. No more suffering.

When my sister was a teenager she heard the story of how Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, and yet died as a thief by crucifixion. Why did he endure such injustice? The reason, she heard, was because he loved her. He loved all humanity. His death was (and is) the admission ticket to heaven, the place of perfect love and purity. Being aware of her imperfections and lack of purity, she accepted Jesus’s gift to her. She trusted herself to him and became his joyful follower. She shared this good news with me and I, too, became his follower.

My sister did not fear death. Because Jesus rose from the grave, she knew she would too. Someday that will happen. Meanwhile, I believe her spirit is with him, as he was in her earthly life. She loved to tell others about him.

It was (and I’m sure still is) her desire for everyone to know his wonderful love. If you are not acquainted with him, you can find out what he’s like by reading the stories written about him when he was on earth. These are recorded in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, found in the Bible.

For decades of life, my sister and I shared a common bond of faith in Jesus. It was as I wrote the lines of the following poem, that he gave me the grace to release her into His loving arms.

Sister, you are going home
Your earthly race is almost over
I can hear the angels singing
I can see one at your shoulder
We were together in the womb
I was the one who came out first
Now it seems, my closest kin,
Our birth order’s been reversed
Though my eyes are filled with tears
In my heart there is a smile
Because of Jesus’ precious promise
I will be with you after awhile.
Together, we will bow and worship
Together, praise our risen King
I rejoice in that knowledge
Death has truly lost its sting.
I will focus on the joy before you—
No more suffering, no more pain
Reunion with your precious husband—
How could I beg you to remain?
Go my sister with my blessing
Do not linger here too long
Know when Jesus calls your name
That your work on earth is done
Sister, you are going home
Your earthly race is almost over
I can hear the angels singing
I can see one at your shoulder
Jane Ault

Broken Glasses and Better Vision

“He [Jesus] turned to the disciples and said,
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you have seen.”
Luke 10:23 NLT

A friend whom I hadn’t seen for quite a few months joined our home group Wednesday night. We met face-to-face. Online. She talked about the blessings technology, which makes it possible to meet together, and about the benefits of slowing down. She had a smile on her face and a heart full of gratitude. As she talked, I felt refreshed, encouraged, and inspired. I hungered for what she had.

The next morning I knocked my spare pair of reading glasses off my computer desk. They landed on the hardwood floor and the frame split in half. Earlier in the week, the frame of my prescription reading glasses snapped in two. What was my reaction when the second pair of glasses broke? I laughed. Yes, I laughed. In. Relief.

I finally understood that I need to slow down. My eyesight is good enough so I can write without my glasses, but it’s more difficult, takes more time, and causes eye strain. So it forces me to slow down. Maybe that’s not so bad.

Maybe by slowing down, I will become more like my friend. Instead of complaining about technology, I will express gratitude for it. Instead of grumbling about the loss of face-to-face social connection in the form I prefer, I will be thankful for the connection that’s possible. In doing so, my contentment will likely increase. Maybe by slowing down, I will hear more clearly what Jesus’ words are to me about my use of energy and time during this coronavirus pandemic.

  • Am I seeing what Jesus is seeing?
  • How do my values align with his?
  • Am I resisting change?
  • Wanting to hang on to old ways of doing things?

In observance of social distancing, I could put on my face mask, visit the optical center, and try to find a glasses frame that fits my intact prescription lenses. Would that be a necessary trip? Something that requires immediate attention?

I decided against it. In a month I have an appointment with my eye doctor, who can check out my vision and find out if it has changed. Why would I spend the extra money and time to find and purchase a glasses frame that I might use for only a month. No. I will put up with a bit of discomfort, focus less on reading and writing, and more on listening, moving, and thinking.

Yesterday’s beliefs
Like my old pair of eyeglasses,
With out-of-date frames and untrue magnifications,
They limit and distort my vision.
When I “look” through them my focus is blurred,
My judgment is nearsighted,
And conclusions are clearly false.
Even so, I keep that old directive—
Just in case my new “lenses” prove defective.
I can’t too quickly accommodate change.
Jane Ault

Hope in this Time of Distress

    He will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
    from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
    from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 25:8 NIV)

“Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’ve listened enough to reports about the coronavirus!”
“Okay. I’ll turn the TV off,” my husband said.
He did, and we spent some time praying and singing. Energized and encouraged, I began to work on my projects for the day.

In my protective mask and stay-at-home secure position, it would be possible for me to forget about the world beyond my doorstep. My heart will not let me do that. So I listen to news reports but not too many of them. I don’t want to be overwhelmed with grief.

My heart wants to connect with others. It cries when I see their pain and struggles. I want to share comfort and hope. (Sometimes, I’m the one who needs comfort and hope.) How do I balance staying informed with retaining sanity and peace-of-mind, so that I can make a positive difference in the midst of this social isolation?

The only way I can do it is to listen more attentively to Jesus. The burden that he asks us to accept is easy; the load he gives us to carry is light. (Matthew 11:30 NCV) He also told us that on earth we would have many trials and sorrows. (John 16:33 NLT) Wait a minute! Doesn’t that sound like a contradiction? How can our burden be easy and our load light when we’re experiencing many trials and sorrows?

For me, the answer is that Jesus carries most of the load. He sees our pain and suffering but is not overwhelmed by it. He empathizes with us because when he lived on earth he experienced deep pain. (Isaiah 53:3 NLT)

  • He gives us no promises of success, no guarantees of ease, no freedom from pain and loss in this world.
  • He does promise he will not leave us and that by staying connected to him we will not only survive but also rise above the difficulties, pain, and losses.

How do we know we can count on his presence? How do we know he will give us the strength to rise above our suffering? How do we know his promises are true? He rose from the grave. In doing so, he overcame the power of evil and the power of death. We celebrated his resurrection less than two weeks ago.

His Spirit is with us now and someday Jesus will return, lift us from the distress of this world, lift us from the grave, and give us bodies like his, free of pain and dysfunction.

This gives me strength for today and great hope for tomorrow.

Oh what comfort! Oh what hope!
No longer will I have to cope
With a virus that can kill;
Nothing, there, will make me ill.
Oh what peace! Oh what rest!
No more conflicts with the flesh;
No more failure; no defeat.
God’s work in me will be complete.
Oh what mercy!  Oh what grace!
No more injury will take place;
No more guilt; no more shame;
Face to face, I will remain.
Oh what joy! Oh what bliss!
I can’t comprehend all this.
Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior,
For you, I’ll work; for you I’ll labor
A few more hours, a few more days,
A few more weeks  to bring you praise.
A few more years upon this earth,
Let me show your matchless worth.
Jane Ault

Who has ultimate immunity?

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin so that
we could be made right with God through Christ.
(2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT)

Every night as the broadcast ends, ABC nightly news picks a hero for the day. Earlier this week, their hero for the day was a physician working in the ICU to save the lives of coronavirus patients. This man displayed an attitude of humility and took compassionate actions beyond the call of duty.

He noticed that one of the cleaning women wearing only a mask and no other protective gear was about to enter the room. He said to her, “Let me do it. Then, dressed in his protective gear, he took her mop and mopped down the floor. His final comment to the news reporter was, “All of us are in this together.”

This took great courage because, despite his protective clothing, the doctor had no assurance of ultimate immunity. Many of his fellow doctors and nurses have contacted the virus and some have died.

To me, this doctor illustrated the character of Jesus. He, who participated in the creation of the world, descended into a human body. While in that body, he became a servant to those he created. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, put his arm around the rejects of society, and confronted the arrogant and self-righteous religious leaders. In an ultimate act of compassion, he died on behalf of all of us.

Why did he die? Because all of us have been infected by the virus called “Sin.” That virus kills everyone. It causes us to hate God, self, and others, rather than love God, self, and others. it’s responsible for the spiritual disease we’ve all inherited.

Jesus, alone, had complete immunity to the sin virus. He, alone, displayed the character of God in everything: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. He, alone, walked humbly, acted justly, and showed mercy in ways that portrayed Father-God. He, alone, fulfilled the call we all have to live in love.

How did he gain immunity? What protected him from the sin virus? He did nothing out of arrogance and self-centered ambition but always listened to the Spirit of God and followed his directions.

So, if Jesus never contracted the sin virus, what killed him? He received the sin virus we all were infected with and died on our behalf so that he might transfer to us the complete immunity he achieved. What amazing love!

And now, Jesus says to us, “We are in this together.” He’s given us his Spirit to aid us so that we can effectively resist the sin virus.

Questions for reflection:
1. What makes you vulnerable to the sin virus?
2. What actions do you need to take in order to resist it and live in the immunity Jesus achieved for you?

Joining in Jesus’ Prayer

Jesus said,  “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep“.
(John 10:14-15 NLT)

As I listen to the many reports of the coronavirus pandemic, my heart grieves. I believe Jesus, also, sees, and he calls us to pray with him. Let us be faithful in intercession. It is an act of love.

The following song flowed from my heart as I spent time with Jesus this week.

Jesus took three friends to the Garden with him
He wanted them to support him in prayer
What did they do?
They closed their eyes
Closed their eyes and fell asleep
Closed their eyes and fell asleep
Closed their eyes and fell asleep
Jesus took three friends to the Garden with him.
He wanted them to support him in prayer.
What did they do?
They left him alone.
Left him alone to pray and weep
Left him alone to pray and weep
Left him alone to pray and weep
Jesus knelt alone in a separate place
He wept so hard his sweat was blood
Why did he weep?
Because of love
Love for his Father and love for his sheep
Love for his Father and love for his sheep
Love for his Father and love for his sheep
Jesus looks, today, for some friends who will pray
They feel the pain of the struggling sheep
What will they do?
They will stay awake.
Stay awake to pray and weep
Stay awake to pray and weep
Stay awake to pray and weep
Jesus looks, today, for some friends who will pray
They feel the pain of the struggling sheep
Why will they weep?
Because of love
Love for their Father and love for his sheep
Love for their Father and love for his sheep
Love for their Father and love for his sheep
Jane Ault

Is Faith a feeling, a thought, or an action?

I have placed my rainbow in the clouds.
It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. (Genesis 9:13 NLT)

[Jesus said] “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (John 14: 1-3 NIV)

John and I have a covenant with one another. It’s a promise we made to each other and have kept for over fifty-four years. I felt so excited when he slipped a ring on my finger and said, “I love you!”

We waited for about six months to enjoy the pleasure of living together and being united in with our bodies, as well as our spirits.

In that time between our engagement and marriage, we lived over 150 miles from one another. We saw each other every two weeks. We had no mobile phones, no email communication, and no computers. We wrote letters and mailed them at the post office. They arrived a day or two later. We called each other once or twice a week, using the dial-up phone system. Thankfully, we were not on the old-fashioned party line, which was shared by family and neighbors!

What did we do in the moments, the days, the nights, and the weekends when we did not see one another’s face or touch one another’s hand? Even though we felt lonely, we felt joyful.

Our faith in one another’s promised words gave us the confidence to think through what we needed to do in order to prepare for our upcoming wedding. We made plans and acted on them.

In the same way, what we think and what we do in response to God’s covenant, his promise to love and not forsake us, is evidence of our faith. How nice it would be in these difficult days if we could just depend on our feelings! As it is in easier times, feelings may or may not be evidence of faith.

I never liked logic
I thought it was toxic
A hindrance to faith
That was a mistake
God is a thinker
God is a planner
His love and compassion
Include knowledge and wisdom
What looks like spontaneity
Is surprising just to me
God knows the end from the beginning
Yet allows for human choosing
This is beyond my comprehension
Yet it provides me with a lesson
Faith excludes the use of magic
To retain, in me, God’s holy image
I must think and I must plan
When I fall down, go back again
Learn by listening to God’s voice
How to make a better choice
This, I think, is faith in action
It’s not a feeling or abstraction
When I embrace this kind of faith
God rewards me by the action he takes.
Jane Ault

How faith in God gives us power to embrace self-respect and extend forgiveness

Joseph’s statement of faith: “ God turned into good what you meant for evil.”
Genesis 50:20 TLB

At New Hope Community Church where I worship, we’ve been looking at the Old Testament story of Joseph. Although treated with immense injustices in his teenager and early adult life, he did not become a victim of his circumstances. Instead, he made these amazing choices.

  • When his envious brothers sold him into slavery, he did not despair but recognized God was with him.
  • Instead of cowering before a rich and powerful sexual predator, he fled.
  • When falsely accused and thrown in prison, he did not linger in self-pity but held onto his confidence that God was for him.
  • Instead of embracing a victim identity, he focused on God’s accepting love and chose self-respect.
  • Instead of building resentment toward the prison guards who were over him, he used his administrative skills for their benefit.
  • Instead of reacting with a vengeful spirit, he forgave his brothers and at the same time confronted them with their wickedness in a way that caused them to repent.

How sad it is, today, when women, men, or children are told that the proper thing to do is put up with abuse, deny its effects and move on. Instead of giving victims of abuse the support and power they need to flee, churches often tell them they must stay. No woman, man, or child can do this and thrive in their faith. If we are Christians in this culture, we must have the kind of faith, attitude, and action that Joseph displayed and Jesus practiced.

Unfortunately, I have sometimes ignored messages and actions from others that are hurtful. In my poem, today, I talk about a more mature choice. I’m so thankful for supportive friends and a husband who values and supports me. Most of all, I am thankful to Jesus. It’s through my relationship with him that I find healing, wisdom, strength, courage, and love. Through him, I’ve discovered my true identity and I embrace it with joy.

 When I’m stuck in a rut of anger, suspicion, and resentment,
 How do I get back to self-control, trust, and contentment?
 I have a little talk with myself
 I ask Our Father for help
 I call some friends and ask them to pray
 I take positive action, without delay
 In this way, I show respect for myself
 And enjoy mental and emotional health
 I may be a victim but I have a choice
 I can accept my lot or make use of my voice
 I can call for support and refuse to remain
 A captive to any human’s chain
 I can prove who I am by doing good
 I don’t need to be hostile and start a feud
 Our Father in heaven sees the unjust
 He fights for victims of prejudice.
 Jane Ault

When laughter comes, depression flees

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13 NASB)

I visited my doctor this week. She said, “You are depressed.” I tried to deny it but after honestly answering the questions she confronted me with, I agreed with her. Amazingly, I am not worried about this depression. I’ve gone through enough dark valleys to know sunshine awaits on the other side. God has always given me the strength and resources I’ve needed to recover. I know what to do. I do not lack hope.

Depression is something like sitting in a room on a stormy day with the window shades pulled down. At first, it makes us feel safe. After a while, the fear and uncertainty of whatever might happen increases and negativity occupies our souls. Problems loom larger. We can’t come up with solutions.

Loneliness contributes to this negativity. Loneliness is sitting in a room of depression by myself. Scientific studies have shown it’s a significant factor in mental and physical health, making us “more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, suicide, even the common cold. It’s more dangerous to our health, researchers tell us, than obesity, and it’s equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day” (Is There a Medical Cure for Loneliness?)

As I listen to news reports and see the storms in the world around me, I want to pull down my window shades. I want to retreat. Isolate myself. Insulate myself through soothing denial. What happens if I do so? Alone, in the company of only myself, depression sets in.

God may be with me, but I don’t see him. I feel angry, turn my back, and refuse to speak to him. I need a human voice to awaken me. To say, “You’re depressed.” To say, “You are lonely. Go spend some time with your friends.”

I heard my physician. I forgot about everything I’d scheduled for the day. I called a friend. Two of them. I stepped out of my house for a few hours and spent time with these friends. We laughed. We cried a little. We laughed some more. We made plans to meet again.

In just one day, my perspective shifted. I felt revived. Able to breathe. Able to think. Able to write again. I turned around, faced God and began to face my problems with fresh belief solutions are possible. For me. For others.

I am not closing my eyes to the pain and dysfunction of the world around me. I will continue to write. I will engage with my voice. I will intentionally be present with those who share their broken hearts with me.

I will not do this in isolation. I will stay connected to my face-to-face friends and to my online friends. I will open up my window shades and receive strength and courage through their smiles and laughter.

 Deeply wounded, in denial
 Grasping chemicals for survival
 Confused about sexuality
 Pursuing greed and unreality
 In a nation we call, “Christian”
 Families flounder in dysfunction
 People ruled by tyrants
 React in fear, hate, and violence
 Injustice flourishes
 Hope nearly perishes
 Another friend develops cancer
 Goodbye to fun, joy, and laughter          
 I see it all, stand in silence,
 Refuse, at first, to ask for guidance,
 Clench my jaw in my sleep,
 Ignore my pounding heartbeat.
 God, why did you give me so much sensitivity?
 I’d like to close my eyes, not hear, not see
 A doctor tells me I’m depressed
 I need friends. I must rest.
 I spend an afternoon with others
 Loneliness no longer smothers
 Me. I can breathe again. 
 I sniff fresh air. I'm not the same.
 Go back home. Make some phone calls.
 I am singing before nightfall. 
 In a child’s eyes, I see wonder
 God is holding back his thunder
 In this oasis of Grace
 Miracles still take place.
 Jane Ault

Joy in Making a U-Turn

“Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.

(Proverbs 1:23 NASB)

If we want to sail with the wind of God’s Spirit, there are times that we need to change direction. In her beautiful book, Openings: Glimpses of God’s Grace, my friend Jean McAllister illustrates this.

She offers us fifty-two inspiring meditations, combining truths of Scripture with her rich experiences. I’m reading her book slowly, as she suggests, taking one meditation for each week of the year.

In her meditation “A Delight to Turn”, she talks about an occasion in which she needed to make a U-turn. Receive and learn from correction. After initially rejecting an editor’s critique and justifying herself, she admitted to the problem that was pointed out and followed through with necessary changes.

I admire her honesty and humility. I’m being challenged in my own growth as I read her valuable insights. Here are a couple of her gems: “His [God’s] love for us in correcting us gives us strength, as no ego-booster ever could!” “I’ve learned a bit of how God shows love through correcting me. I can even find joy in his gracious showings of my shortcomings, because I know that he will also take them away. (p.13 Openings)

God has shown me I need to make some adjustments in my life. Not a complete U-turn in which I give up writing. Just some tweaking. Other areas of my life need more attention. That means I may not finish a sequel to my book, Emotional FreedomThe Choices We Must Make this year.  

I feel embarrassed because it’s taking me so long to complete my promise to do so. But I need to adjust my sail. I can choose to do so and miss the wind of the Spirit, or I can correct my course and receive his blessing.

My word for this year is faithfulness. Faithfulness to Jesus means I obey him. “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones,” he says (Luke 16:10 NLT) When we are faithful with a few things, he will give us many more things. (Mathew 25:21 NIV)

 Jesus sits beside me as I make my plan
 I listen to him and do the best I can
 I must make adjustments all the time
 Because his vision is better than mine
 He wants obedience, not perfection
 So I don’t throw out my selection
 Or shame myself when I need correction
 That never helps; it’s a distraction
 When he corrects me through other people
 I’ll accept it, not accuse them of evil
 I want something beyond survival
 A fresh experience of revival
 A gracious gift of the Holy Spirit
 Lord, inspect my heart and prepare it
 Let me sit beside you as you make your plan
 I will listen to you—do the best that I can
 Jane Ault

Freedom to Pursue Your God-inspired Vision

The wise see danger ahead and avoid it,
    but fools keep going and get into trouble.
Proverbs 27:12 (NCV)

“Oh, why do I want to do everything!”

These are the words I spoke to my husband after a discussion about my commitments for the coming week, month, and year. I resist boundaries. Like the sheep who breaks through the fence and leaves the safety of the pasture, I often wander into dangerous territory.

I like to think I have no limits. I am several decades younger. That my body is as strong as it was then I was 30. That I have as much time left on this earth as I had when I was 50. I imagine this wandering from reality as freedom. It’s the opposite.

Instead of giving me freedom, this thoughtless-wandering takes away my freedom. How so? By following every stray desire that comes into my mind, I lose the ability to focus. I don’t do what I must do today in order to walk out the vision God’s given to me.

God’s vision for us fits the reality of who we are, as humans, in every stage of life from birth to death.

At the same time, his vision for us stretches beyond what we can do by ourselves. As we submit to the boundaries he sets for us, God does amazing things in and through us. He does “much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3: 20 NCV).

Jesus showed us how to do this. He accepted the limitations of a human body and the limitations of time. He had only one vision: to do what Father-God called him to do and that he accomplished.

How did he do so?

  • By accepting the limitations of humanity
  • By living according to the boundaries of Scripture
  • By depending on the Holy Spirit,
  • By resisting every distracting desire and ego-driven imaginative wandering.

Jesus us our example, as well as our Savior. He does not leave us on our own. As we study and meditate on Scripture, his Spirit shows us what boundaries we need, and gives us the power and freedom we need to carry out our God-inspired vision.

 In the early morning, 
 When I first awake
 I converse with Jesus 
 about which path to take.
 Sometimes, I’m feeling tired; 
 The path looks very steep.
 I’m tempted to turn back; 
 I began to fear defeat.
 He cares about my body; 
 He cares about my soul.
 He says, “I’ll walk beside you;
 I will help you reach your goal.
 “I know that you are weary; 
 I remember your age.
 “Your load won’t be too heavy,
 if with me you engage.”
 I respond, “Oh Lord, I know this; 
 You’ve proved it many times.
 I will face this mountain; 
 I’ll take your arm and climb.”
 I look into my Savior’s eyes;
 I see that he is good and wise.
 A song of praise begins to rise; 
 I know that we will win the prize.
 Jane Ault

If we keep looking back, how can we move forward?

“I want to move forward, not backward in life
I don’t want to keep struggling with memories at night
I want to walk beside Jesus, not beside me
. . .”
A Journal Entry

I look in my car’s rearview mirror when I’m backing out of my 150-foot driveway. I’m getting pretty good at it. I’ve learned how to move swiftly and still avoid hitting the two trees which stand on either side of the entrance to the highway. I look in the rearview mirror because I want to go backward. When I reach the highway, I occasionally look in that mirror, but most of the time my eyes are focused on the road in front of me. I no longer want to move backward. I want to move forward.

It’s the same way in life. If we are stuck, we might initially need to look at our past life. Reflect on it. Evaluate how we’ve lived. What mirrors will accurately reflect Truth about ourselves? Our culture? Our Facebook likes and comments? Our family? Our conscience?

All of these mirrors can be helpful. They can also be inaccurate and destructive. Especially conscience. If it’s a condemning one. Self-analysis done through the mirror of introspection (isolated self-analysis) keeps us stuck in the past mire of regret. It prevents us from moving forward.

In my experience, regret has kept me from making changes. Why? Because it’s a self-focused activity in which I see only my errors. Thankfully, Jesus sees more than that! He doesn’t remind me of my errors. He reminds me of his forgiveness. His name for me is not “sinner”. It’s “saint!” Scripture declares that “long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault—we who stand before him covered with his love” (Ephesians 1:4 TLB). 

When I look in the mirror of Scripture, through which his Spirit reflects truth, Jesus shows me my heart. He, alone, knows my heart. He, alone, speaks accurately about my past. He does so as I read Scripture and invite him to sit beside me and diagnose my condition.

Looking at my past condition can still be painful. Yet, I’ve found that doing it with Jesus beside me not only reduces pain but also inspires hope. He does not condemn me.

This year, my husband and I hope to celebrate some very significant events. We were married fifty-three years ago, the infant church God called us to is fifty-years-old, our oldest daughter is celebrating a milestone birthday, and our oldest grandchild is graduating from college. Sadly, I’ve been feeling anxious about these celebrations because I’ve been focused on my failures.

Last Sunday, I listened to these words of Scripture spoken by my husband: “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1).

I understood how destructive my constant looking back had become.

  • I made a decision to let go of the past and embrace the future.
  • To stop looking backward and instead, move forward.
  • To stop viewing myself through the mirror of introspection and see myself through the eyes of Jesus.
  • To stop beating myself up for past dysfunctional behavior and rest in his forgiving love.

This is my prayer and my focus for 2020.

 Lord, be my focal point all through the day.
 Instruct me and guide me; teach me your way.
 Lord, be my comforter all through the night.
 In every affliction, capture my sight.
 Let my eyes, always, behold your dear face
 That filled with joy, I may finish this race.
 Not with the pride of presumption, oh God
 Would I choose suffering and pain as my lot—
 Thinking I possibly merit could earn.
 Delight in dependence, Help me to learn.
 Faith in your goodness is all you require.
 Mercy, not sacrifice, is what you desire.
 Lord, not avoidance of trials will I seek, rather
 Peace that comes from a heart that is meek—
 From a heart submitted, joyful and true—
 One that finds pleasure in following you.
 Jane Ault

Some questions for you to consider

  • Do you think you reflect too little on your past? Or too much?
  • Have you invited Jesus to sit beside you as you reflect on your past?
  • If you haven’t done so, what is keeping you from doing it?

Walking Out Your Vision

Commit your actions to the Lord,
    and your plans will succeed.
Proverbs 16:3 NLT

I laughed when I looked out my window and these two geese waddling on the ice. They weren’t moving very fast. They seemed a bit confused. I don’t know if they got left behind when the flock they were traveling with headed south or if they just ignored the call.

It challenged me to think about my call. My vision for 2020. If I want my dreams fulfilled, I need to design my life to make that happen. Set some goals. Take action. Ask for accountability. I’m working on the goal-setting part and have found a few people to whom I will report my progress or lack thereof.

Most importantly, I need to keep in touch with God, ask for his wisdom, and follow his directions. If I do this, I can confidently expect to see my dreams fulfilled. Even if like a confused goose I miss a call or two (which, being imperfect, I will do) God sees me and re-issues his call. My confidence is in his faithfulness, and part of my vision is to increase my faithfulness.

What about you?
How are you going to walk out the vision God’s given you for 2020?

 Design your life so you can stay
 Close to Jesus, every day.
 Every day and every night, 
 Make his presence your delight.
 Make his will your only choice.
 By listening to the Spirit’s voice,
 You will know which path to take;
 Less often make the same mistake.
 Remember you are still a learner.
 When corrected, do not murmur;
 Then your work will get done sooner.
 Don’t pay attention to false rumor.
 Believe that Jesus keeps his promise;
 He does not let Satan harm us.
 Share your goods, generously.
 Do everything for God’s glory.
 Do the things you are designed for
 By your Father and Creator;
 Respect the temple where he dwells;
 Protect it from falls and ills.
 When you are injured, please forgive.
 Never let resentment live!
 Treat everyone as Jesus does.
 Give up every prejudice.
 Focus not on perfection,
 But on faithful implementation;
 Don’t be lazy or a faker.
 Be a giver, not a taker.
 The Holy Spirit’s your companion.
 He is real, not a phantom.
 Comply with him and find shalom.
 He will not leave you alone.
 Jane Ault 

A Jesus-kind-of Vision for 2020 and the Decade Ahead

January 2nd Sunrise

I don’t often see the sunrise on winter days because clouds cover the sun. But as I was washing breakfast dishes on January second, I looked up from the dirty sink. Though my kitchen window, I saw the bright pink color of the sky reflected in the still unfrozen water pools of the lake.

I quickly left the sink, ran and grabbed my camera. The color of the sunrise disappeared in a moment or two after I took the photo. I would have missed the beautiful scene if I had not looked up.

God is waiting to show us something that’s more brilliant than any sunrise. It’s a vision of him, and it includes a vision of what we can be when we look at him. In order to receive God’s vision, we must look up.

That’s what Jesus did. The writers of the gospels record many instances in which Jesus looked up to Father-God for clarity of vision. It was his habit to get up early ” in the morning when it was still very dark” . . . he went out to a deserted place, and  . . . spent time in prayer (Mark 1:35 NET).

It was his practice to do only what fit in with this vision. He said to his disciples, ” I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak just what the Father taught me” (John 8:28 NET).

This year I’ve taken some time to look up to God and receive his vision for 2020. He faithfully gave me a picture of what my life can look like if I follow his instructions. It’s a beautiful picture.

I’m not sharing the details here, but my vision is based on the concept of Shalom, the Biblical word for well-being. I feel peaceful when I read it. I feel challenged by it because I know in order to accomplish it, I will need to look up to my Father-God like Jesus did.

What will happen if I, like Jesus, do and say only the things the Father shows me to do and say? The Holy Spirit will do more than I can think or imagine. Jesus’s life and love will flow in and through me to others in ways I haven’t yet experienced. That is my desire and my hope.

Do you have a vision inspired by Father-God this year? If you don’t, know that if you truly want it, he will give you one. Don’t keep looking at whatever “dirty sink of dishes” is in front of you. Look up and like Jesus receive the beautiful vision available to you.

Then, by the power of the Holy Spirit follow through, like Jesus did, saying and doing what he shows you to say and do. You will be amazed at the results. “With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20 NCV)

How Jesus Demonstrated God’s Kindness

The Lord is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness.
Psalm 145:17 NLT

In my poem, today, I purposely stayed away from the words Christians commonly use to describe Jesus without changing who he was, who he is, and what he did. As a Christian, I try to use terminology which accurately describes the truths of Scripture and at the same time is understandable to the culture I live in.

 God who is kind, just, and holy
 Came to a world that was unruly
 Stuck in addiction and disease,
 Full of envy and hard to please.
 He entered as a human babe
 And in a cattle’s bed was laid.
 Few people noticed on that day
 God had arrived. They stayed away.
 He grew up as a normal child,
 An apprentice at his father’s side—
 Despising not manual labor,
 Gaining skill and earning favor.
 He always respected his parents.
 (Although it soon was apparent
 He heard the Spirit more clearly.)
 He did not leave home too early.
 Instead of ambitiously climbing,
 He waited for the Spirit’s timing.
 Assured of God-the-Father’s favor,
 He did not strive to please his neighbor.
 He split from family expectations
 And yet kept love’s obligations;
 He resisted every lustful infection.
 To Satan’s bribes paid no attention.
 Most of his earthly relatives
 Thought his words had no relevance
 Like religious leaders of that day,
 They rejected him and walked away.
 All the rejects in his culture
 Found in him a joyful future.
 Children gathered around his feet
 They knew his love was pure and sweet.
 Jesus affirmed their simplicity,
 Pointed out adult duplicity,
 Lived in transparent integrity,
 Yet most around him could not see.
 Their eyes were blinded by his Light.
 They preferred the works of night—
 Applauded him for a miracle,
 Wanted only what was magical,
 Desired to be comfortable,
 Hated to be vulnerable,
 And not accepting boundaries,
 They missed the point of his stories.
 Jesus moved on with a smaller crowd.
 Though disunited, unlearned, and proud,
 They were eager to follow and learn;
 So he did not treat them with scorn.
 By putting himself on display,
 He demonstrated God’s way—
 Choosing righteousness, justice and mercy
 Even when treated adversely.
 He, the perfect one, took our disease,
 Chose it freely, though not without pleas
 For another way, if possible;
 His suffering—incomprehensible!
 When they saw Jesus nailed to the cross,
 His followers fled, believing he’d lost.
 The Father accepted work of his Son
 The Spirit announced “Victory is won!”
 Jesus rose from death and the grave
 With the power to free every slave—
 Those ruled by unhealthy desire,
 Those in bondage to thieves and liars
 He is here in this present world
 His love for us is undeterred
 Call on Jesus and you will find
 Compassion, purpose, peace of mind,
 The strength of will to do what’s good,
 The joy of living as you should;
 Connect with him in all you do,
 In what you think, in where you go,
 Enjoy companionship of the Spirit
 Do things which bring eternal merit
 Discover, in this, where you belong
 Celebrate Christmas all year long
 Jane Ault

I’m thankful for the freedom to ask questions

Just ask the animals, and they will teach you.
    Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you.

Job 12:7

I’m wondering what this little chipmunk is asking. I don’t know if he can ask questions or not but if he could ask one I’m guessing it would be this: “When will you shovel the snow off this deck and put out more sunflower seeds?”

I am a questioner. I always have been. During times of my life when people discouraged me from inquiry, I did not stop questioning. I took my questions to God and he answered them. Not always immediately. Sometimes, not for many years. Though I still have many unanswered questions, I have not given up asking. I believe the answers are coming.

  • I am thankful and humbled that God gives me the freedom to ask questions! It’s a part of being human. Children naturally ask questions. What questions did you ask when you were a child? Were questions acceptable? All questions or just some questions? If you’ve been put down or shamed for asking questions, know that God loves to hear your questions. “Ask me,” he says, “and I will tell you remarkable secrets about things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3 NLT).
  • I feel thankful and overjoyed when God answers my questions! Often, as I am meditating on Scripture, he gives me a new insight and unexpected answer to one of my questions. In response, I write and sing a melody of gratitude.
  • I am thankful for the amazing ways God provides for me. I’ve asked for knowledge, understanding, wisdom, guidance, healing, strength, forgiveness, justice, and mercy, and he’s answered in unexpected ways.
  • I am thankful and awed that God gives me the choice of accepting or rejecting his answers to life’s questions. I can freely choose “life or death, a blessing or a curse”. (Deuteronomy 30:19)
  • I am thankful and amazed, as with patience and love, he reveals to me both the consequences and benefits of accepting his wisdom. He always desires my good, feels grieved when I act foolishly and gives me unnumbered opportunities to change direction. He is patient . . . not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)

Today in my country, I wonder if either those who call for “freedom of choice” and those who oppose it really understand what that freedom involves.

No one who demands we comply with their authority without asking questions and/or withholds information which we need and are entitled to displays the character and conduct of Jesus.

If we call ourselves his followers we cannot justify unquestioned compliance and secret-keeping in situations where a knowledge of truth is necessary. Freedom to live according to our own conscience is our God-given right and responsibility. Freedom to judge the conscience of another is not our right.

I hope we will stop fearing questions and continue to respectfully ask them. I pray that we will put aside arrogance and humbly listen to one another, genuinely seeking to understand differing points of view, and doing all that we can to promote unity and peace.

There are plenty of “chipmunks” in our world who are “snowed-under” with needs and hunger. They are not asking for sunflower seeds but for mercy and justice. None of us know it all. Let’s give up our arrogant “right to always be right” and fight for those whose rights have been stripped away.

A Gratitude Challenge

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.
Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives.
Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
Colossians 3:16 NLT

After knocking over a half-full glass of water as I reached for my eye drops this morning, I could have chosen to complain. Instead, I chose gratitude.  What could I be thankful for?

  • Most of the water landed on the floor instead of my dresser top.
  • Not one drop of water fell into the open container of medication standing on my dresser.
  • When the glass hit the floor, it did not break or even crack.
  • I’m thankful for my generous-hearted sister-in-law who gave me that glass.
  • I can still touch my toes and bend over, so I easily cleaned up the mess.
  • My early morning accident provided an illustration for this blog post.

Gratitude, I’ve discovered, does not begin with feeling thankful. It starts with what I’m thinking. Words that gush out of my mouth flow from the hidden spring of beliefs I’ve stored in my heart.

Like the Psalmist, I want the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart to be pleasing to God. (Psalm 19:14) In order for this to happen, I must pay attention to my thoughts.

Here’s my challenge: In every situation where I’m inclined to grumble or complain, I will write a statement of gratitude. I will share these statements with someone on Thanksgiving Day.

That day is less than two weeks away. My challenge starts now. I hope you will join me.

  • Either electronically or with a pen and paper, write down each situation in which you feel angry, disappointed, sad, or stuck
  • Then, by writing down everything for which you can give thanks, turn it into an opportunity for gratitude.
  • Record any change in your attitude or energy level that results after you’ve done the first two steps.

NOTE: This is not an exercise in perfection. Don’t guilt yourself if you slip up; just get up and start again. Start building or, if you need to, rebuild a habit of gratitude.

 Get in the habit of gratitude;
 Cultivate that attitude.
 Practice it morning, noon, and night;
 Bless God for everything in sight—
 Everything beautiful, everything good;
 Focus not on the ugly, impure or lewd.
  Note everything true and commendable;
  See what has worth and what is expendable.
 Soon your soul will be filled with joy;
 Small imperfections will not annoy
 You anymore; you’ll be gracious
 To all--kind and courageous.
 Get in the habit of gratitude;
 Make it more than a platitude.
 Jane Ault 


A Vision Adjustment

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.
Psalm 5:11

Last summer, a mama robin built her nest in the gutter which is located underneath the edge of the roof above our large living room picture window. A friend of mine jumped, nearly panicking when she saw this robin flying toward the window. She thought the bird was going to crash against the glass and injure or kill itself.

My friend did not see that the bird was flying into a nest of safety because her vision did not extend high enough. How often in an uncertain and difficult situation, my vision has been too low!

Viewing my circumstances through the lens of humanity’s limited knowledge and wisdom, I become overwhelmed with worry. Jesus knows that is our tendency. So he reminds us, as his followers, to gain instruction from the birds.

“Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are? And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:26 NET)

In Psalm 84, David, the shepherd boy who became King, speaks of birds finding a home and swallows building a nest to raise their young in the protected and peaceful place of God’s presence.

Sometimes, instead of God’s presence, my eyes are on the storm. I fear that I will crash.

 Again, Jesus, my vision is too low.
 In this thing, which you allowed,
 I imagine only destruction. 
 Help me see above this storm.
 Or else, take my hand and walk me though it.
 In this thing, which you allowed,
 Let me not be blinded by deception.
 Help me see above the storm.
 Jesus, I need a vision adjustment
 About this thing which you allowed;
 My body shakes. I’m filled with tension.
 Your power’s greater than this storm!
 That I've said; there’s much knowledge in my head.
 In this thing, which you allowed,
 My heart longs to trust your intention,  
 to believe there is goodness in this storm.
 Jesus, you have earth’s and heaven’s vision.
 This is a thing you allowed
 Yourself to feel! So with compassion
 You will enter the storm I am in.
 Calm my anger, remove my confusion.
 Is there something I've allowed
 Myself to hide? With faith's perception, 
 Help me walk with you 'til all storms end.
 Jane Ault


A Little Bit of Humor

She is clothed with strength and dignity,
    and she laughs without fear of the future.

Proverbs 31:25 NLT

Embracing the writing I’m called to do doesn’t always excite me. Sometimes, I’d just rather play another game of Scrabble with my husband. After years of disinterest in that game, he recently took a liking to it. Now, playing Scrabble is an evening habit for us.

He plays to enjoy himself. I play to win. Would it be possible for me to enjoy myself if I did not win the game? So far, I’ve been winning most of the games. To tell you the truth, it’s not as much fun as it used to be. I’d like to see him win more often.

It’s easy to think so, but he scored 57 points in his last play (we are in the middle of a game) and I’m re-thinking my desire for him to win more often. I’m not making this up. I simply decided I would like to post something less serious in my blog this week.

So as much as I’d like to philosophize, I’m sticking to my write-something- less-serious goal. I will just share a humorous poem. Well . . . it does have a bit of philosophizing, I suppose.

 It’s really no fun to live with Depression;
 It’s really no fun to walk with Despair.
 I wish I could find a partner more cheerful;
 I wish I could find Laughter somewhere.
 Laughter will come if you invite her;
 Laughter will come if you open the door.
 Laughter's a child both wise and simple—
 To look in her eyes you must sit on the floor.
 Laughter is young but older than Fear.
 She doesn't read clocks but comes in a hurry.
 Trust is her guide and, though, she's imperfect,
 She sees in her mirror no reason for worry.
 If you want to know Laughter, you must change your position,
 Be prepared to look silly—people might stare.
 Yes, people might talk and people might leave;
 But when you’re with Laughter you really won't care. 
Jane Ault
@ 1996

Fall to Winter . . .

For everything there is an appointed time,
and an appropriate time for every activity on earth:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted;
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 NET

I returned, Tuesday, from a trip in which I celebrated a family wedding and, two days later during this same week, received the news of a family death. Joy followed by sorrow. In this life, laughter and tears pursue one another in unknown and unpredictable cycles.

Although the week’s October temperatures soared to mid-summer highs, I find courage and comfort in the still somewhat predictability of earth’s seasons, in the promises of Scripture, and in the presence of the Spirit of Jesus.

The following poem is my reflection about “Winter”.

 Fall to Winter,
 Winter to Spring,
 Spring to Summer,
 Summer to Fall—
 Fall to Winter;
 We, forever, recycle
 Until abruptly,
 Death ends our denial.
 Ashes to ashes,
 Dust to dust;
 Our spirit returns
 To God who is just.
 Fall to Winter,
 Winter to Spring,
 Spring to Summer,
 Summer to Fall--
 Fall to Winter;
 The cycle is ending
 For someone we love;
 We're still pretending
 Winter will come.
 Spring will soon follow.
 We hope for more time;
 Death’s hard to swallow.
 Fall to Winter,
 Winter to Spring,
 Spring to Summer,
 Summer to Fall--
 Fall to Winter;
 Too soon comes the call.
 We hear it with hope
 And still try to stall--
 Not wanting to leave,
 Not wanting to stay,
 There’s conflict within;
 We struggle and pray.
 Fall to Winter,
 Winter to Spring,
 Spring to Summer,
 Summer to Fall--
 Fall to Winter;
 The battle is over.
 Victory’s been won!
 We see composure--
 Peace on the face
 Of a loved one departed;
 The cycle goes on;
 Yet, death’s been outsmarted.
 Fall to Winter,
 Winter to Spring,
 Spring to Summer,
 Summer to Fall--
 Fall to Winter;
 Will I cycle once more?
 My question’s not answered;
 I cannot be sure.
 Grace upon grace
 Has been given to me;
 I wonder, sometimes,
 At the goodness received.
 Fall to Winter,
 Winter to Spring,
 Spring to Summer,
 Summer to Fall--
 Fall to Winter;
 In this moment of time,
 What will I do 
 With breath that is mine?
 I’ll not stay too long
 In my lament;
 I can never recover
 Time not well spent.
 Fall to Winter,
 Winter to Spring,
 Spring to Summer,
 Summer to Fall--
 Fall to Winter;
 I’m more peaceful this year.
 Though I may tremble
 And feel insecure,
 I know from experience,
 Grace will be sufficient. 
 In joy and in sorrow,
 God has been present.
 Fall to Winter,
 Winter to Spring,
 Spring to Summer,
 Summer to Fall-- 

 Fall to Winter . . .
 Jane Ault

Sometimes I want to pretend . . .

“Give justice to the poor and the orphan;
uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.
Psalm 82:3

Much of what is happening in the world brings me distress. I grieve over the lack of justice, the dishonesty, greed, and coverup of corruption in our government. Worse than that are the easy answers to complex issues, apparent blindness, or avoidance of issues which many fellow Christians seem to practice, along with the blindness we have to our own issues.

Sometimes, I want to close my eyes to it all. But I cannot. I’ve always been a questioner. I believe God likes us to ask questions. It’s a necessary part of growth. I never want to stop growing. These are some of my current questions.

What does it mean for me to live out my faith in today’s world? What is faith and what is not faith? How can faith become a solution, rather than a coverup of guilt? In what practical ways, does love overcome fear, giving me the power to reach out in compassion rather than hide? Where can I find hope strong enough to sustain us when I am misunderstood or attacked or abandoned?

These are challenging questions. I don’t presume to have all the answers. I’m attempting to address them in my current book. Because I need more time to focus on them, I am sending out blog posts less often. I hope you will pray for me, as I continue to work on this book.

God has given me the ability to process inner conflicts through journaling, writing poetry, and creating song lyrics. These are what I will most often post on my blog.

 Sometimes I want to pretend 
 That no one ever dies,
 That life is like a fairy tale 
 That ends with happy smiles—
 If trouble comes it will not last 
 More than a day or two,
 If I just have faith enough,
 That trouble soon will go—

 This doesn’t often work for me.
 Does that mean I lack faith?
 Or could it simply be the fact
 It’s impossible to escape—
 To flee from the realities
 Of injustice, hardship, pain?
 It’s true I can deny these things,
 But I child, I will remain.
 Wrestling with uncertainty,
 With questions long unanswered,
 Seeing desire, again, unmet
 While injustice has prospered—
 These are some issues I must face
 If I want to mature.
 Am I willing to take a risk,
 Or must I always feel secure?
 Sometimes I want to pretend 
 That no one ever dies,
 That life is like a fairy tale 
 That ends with happy smiles.

 A faith that can’t stand challenges
 Is not what faith’s about.
 The God I know and serve, today
 Handles my fear and doubt,
 Hears my ranting, sees my tears,
 And always stays engaged,
 Does not always tell me “why”
 Yet my sorrow is assuaged—
 Not by simplistic platitudes
 Or an un-thought rebuttal
 Spoken by some scribe of his
 Who sees me very little—
 Not by quick assurances
 That things will be “okay”,
 But by the presence of the Spirit
 Who never goes away—
 He is un-describable,
 Mysterious in his ways,
 No words can describe him,
 I can only give him praise.

 Jane Ault 

The Joyful Rest of GRACE

Since we have been made right with God by our faith, we have peace with God. This happened through our Lord Jesus Christ, who through our faith has brought us into that blessing of God’s grace that we now enjoy.
Romans 5:1-2 NCV)

As a Christian, I’ve struggled for many years to overcome a tendency to live according to law instead of grace. Early in my life, I imagined it was possible for me to live according to God’s commandment to love him with all my heart, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. If I worked hard enough, I could do it with perfection.

Gradually I realized that I neither understood the meaning of that commandment nor the difficulty I would have in following it.

Today’s poem reflects my struggle, the understanding I’ve gained, and the joy I’ve found. It’s an ongoing adventure.

 I read in God’s word what he expected of me
 In my pride, I imagined I could do it.
 But the virus of sin took control of my flesh
 So when temptation came, I failed the test
 Every day, I fell short.
 In numerous ways, I blew it.
 I despaired until I learned this:
 I can rest in Jesus’ merit.
 Every day, I compose
 New songs of joy and victory!
 What was impossible for me to do, he accomplished
 To recognize this truth brings me freedom—
 As, with joy, I put aside prideful independence
 And align my heart with his word and his Spirit.
 Then, I can do what pleases God.
 It, also, pleases me.
 Every day, I compose
 New songs of joy and victory!
 I read in God’s word what he expects of me.
 And in the power of the Spirit, I do it.
 Not yet with perfection, yet sufficiently;
 I’m a child of grace and will keep growing.
 By his Spirit, God will bring me to maturity.
 This is the promise he’s given me.
 Every day, I compose
 New songs of joy and victory!
 Jane Ault 

HOPE for Abused Children

Forget-Me-Nots remind me of God’s love for his children.
This is how he describes his love in for them the book of Isaiah:
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you! “
(Isaiah 49:15)

When I read stories of how children are abused in such destructive ways, I feel deeply saddened. Many of them believe they’ve been abandoned by God. Jesus assures us that this is not so. He loved the children. To him, they are precious lambs. When his followers pushed them away, Jesus rebuked them and told them they, themselves, needed to become like children–humble, trusting, and truthful.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, rescues lambs. He carries them in his arms and protects them from the “wolves” who would deceive and destroy them. He said, ” My Father gave my sheep to me. He is greater than all, and no person can steal my sheep out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:29).

He calls those of us who are sheep in his church to come beside him in his mission to rescue the lambs who’ve been deceived and are temporarily held captive. He calls us to bring hope and healing to abused children.

The following poem reflects how a precious lamb might feel when rescued by Jesus. I hope it will encourage you to get ask him how he would want you to get involved in reaching out to captive lambs.

 When you rescued me, Lord!
 it was all because
 Of the love the Father
 Reigning above
 I am His child.
 He will never forget!
 His Spirit within me
 Assures me of that
 I'm no longer ashamed
 I'm no longer afraid.
 The lies of abusers
 I see and resist.
 Your power and love
 Fill my heart every day;
 So no one can ever
 Lure me away.
 Someday, you’ll return
 With a triumphant shout
 And my soul will be free
 No more tempted to doubt
 Never harassed
 And never in pain
 Lord Jesus, I long
 For that glorious day
 Jane Ault

Whose Approval Rating Matters?

Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval.
Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed
and who correctly explains the word of truth.
(2 Timothy 2:15 NLT)

For my entire life, I’ve wanted and longed for approval. I wanted to please my parents. I wanted to please my grandparents. (And I had eleven of them to please!) I wanted to please my teachers. I wanted to please my employer. I wanted to please my husband. I wanted to please my children. I wanted to please my grandchildren. Most of all, I wanted to please God.

At least I thought I did. For quite a while, I convinced myself that all of this was true. Especially the pleasing-God part. In his kindness and mercy, God did not immediately confront me with the truth he saw in my heart: I wanted to please others so that they would be pleased with me. I was searching for the worth that perfect performance would bring.

I mistakenly thought that pleasing others meant “making them happy.” I did not want anyone to feel disappointed or sad. And if someone was not happy I thought it was my job to cheer them up. Being a person with high emotional sensitivity, I quickly noticed the emotional climate around me. When I sensed any sign of anxiety, sadness, or anger, my mind started designing a plan to fix the situation.

I discovered some surprising things:

  • Some people feel happy no matter what I do.
  • Some people feel unhappy no matter what I do.
  • I can only make one person happy. That person is me.

Instead of making others happy, something impossible for me to accomplish, I want to serve others in a way that benefits them and does not damage me.

I realize that it’s not my job to make God happy either.

 Whose acceptance do I value?            
 Whose approval do I seek?
 The world sees only outward beauty;
 God sees quality beneath.
 Whose acceptance do I value?
 Whose approval do I seek?
 The world rejects the ones who stumble;
 God restores his fallen sheep.
 Whose acceptance do I value?
 Whose approval do I seek?
 The world discards the old and feeble;
 God upholds those small and meek.
 Whose acceptance do I value?
 Whose approval do I seek?
 The world's applause is for a moment;
 God's honor is for eternity.

Satisfying My Thirst for Approval

Jesus said in  “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  If anyone believes in me, rivers of living water will flow out from that person’s heart.”
The Gospel of John, chapter 7, verses 37-38

Frequently, I thirst for approval. It’s a human desire and a human need. God promises to fulfill this thirst, and he does so when I turn to him. Sadly, he’s not always the first one I look to.

In her book, Free of Me: Why Life is Better When It’s Not about You, Sharon Hodde Miller describes seven mirrors we commonly look into in our search for approval. As I read her book this week, God gave me insights which I recorded in the following poem.

 Sometimes I seek approval
 From family or friends;
 My vision is distorted
 When looking through that lens.
 I lose sight of Jesus.
 My love for him grows dim
 In his grace and goodness,
 He calls me back to him.
 I focus on forgiveness
 Instead of on my sin;
 I regain hope and courage
 And, in strength, rise again.
 I rise again to worship
 My Savior and my God;
 Then, gratefully, I work
 For his accepting nod—
 I know I have acceptance.
 Approval’s something more.
 It takes my faithful effort;
 Obedience is its core.
 Obedience flows from love—
 Love that I’ve been given.
 Oh what joy it is to be
 A friend of God in heaven!
 That friendship costs me everything
 It must be my one desire.
 I cannot cling to other loves
 And retain the Spirit’s fire.
 An all-consuming love for Christ
 Transforms my soul and spirit
 So that from sources outside of him
 I no longer search for merit. 
 Jane Ault 


 What makes America great?
 Is it the money we make or how we relate?
 How do we relate those at our gate?
 Who gets to come in and who has to wait? 
 Whom do we love and whom do we hate?
 Must we all agree or can we debate?
 What makes America great?
 Is it due to the way our government runs?
 Is it the size of our militia and high-powered guns?
 Can greatness be measured in stocks and bonds?
 Does it matter how we acquire and spend our funds?
 Do we see our skyscrapers but not our slums?
 What makes America great?
 Does everyone have a steak on their plate?
 How do we treat a prison inmate?
 Do we believe an addict can become straight?
 Whom do we favor and educate?
 Whom do we choose to isolate?
 What makes America great?
 Is it simply a matter of fate?
 Or is it due to the choices we make?
 Who should we congratulate?
 According to God, how do we rate?
 Are we humble enough to admit a mistake? 

 What makes America great?
 For what do we live? For whom would we die?
 What makes us laugh and what makes us cry?
 Is what we’re pursuing truth or a lie?
 Do we have the courage to not comply?
 By saying nothing, what do we imply?  

 What makes America great?
 Is it the flag we fly on this Fourth-of-July?
 Is it a celebration of days-gone-by?
 On victories past, can we rely?
 What do we see and what do we deny?
 What will have changed by next Fourth-of-July?
 Jane Ault 

A Life-Giving Practice

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies announce what his hands have made. Day after day they tell the story; night after night they tell it again.
(Psalm 19:1-2 NCV)

Almost every morning since the first of January this year, I’ve spent the first forty-five minutes to an hour studying and meditating on Scripture. As I converse with Jesus about his words, he frequently gives me a poem or song lyrics. This is the best part of my day.

When my husband hears me singing, he knows I’m ready for breakfast. As we are eating, I share my new song or poem with him and welcome his insights. After hearing and discussing his viewpoint, I often write additional verses or improve what I’ve written.

It’s a challenge to do so, yet my desire is to continue the Jesus-and-me dialog throughout the day. This is how I find strength and courage. This how I gain and regain clarity about my purpose in life and how I receive direction for the day. This is what keeps me from taking pleasurable but distracting side trips.

As I silently or openly include Jesus in my conversations with others, he gives me insight and wisdom in my responses. God said to Isaiah, ” my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55: 8-9). God’s thoughts are definitely more profound than mine.

If I want to write or speak words which reflect the heart and mind of God, I must listen to the Spirit of Jesus. If I want to say things which have true worth, I must dialog with him. Amazingly, he then can then display his love and power through me.

The following poem flows out of my meditation on Ephesians 3:16 and 1 Timothy 1:17.

Jesus is Worthy of All Praise

 Jesus Christ is worthy of all praise.
 In him, all perfection is displayed.
 He shows those with faith-enlightened eyes
 The glory and power of God on high;
 We are strengthened in our inner selves
 By the love of Christ. He is our help.
 When facing hardship, our choice is firm;
 Held in his arms, we suffer no harm.
 Though on this earth, we experience loss,
 We rejoice, knowing it’s worth the cost.
 God comes through with his abundant grace;
 How immeasurably good are all his ways!
 Immeasurably wise are all his words.
 How blessed we are when we have heard
 And closely followed the Spirit’s voice;
 God gives to us unimagined joys.
 Jesus Christ is worthy of all praise.
 In him, all perfection is displayed.
 Through those who have faith-enlightened eyes,
 He displays the love and power of God on high. 

 Jane Ault

A Meditation on the Meaning of Faith

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 NIV)
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  
for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1:8-9)

Compared to some of my past life experiences, I am not currently going through a tough time. Just the normal frustrations of aging. My poem, today, is a reflection of more difficult days.

I wrote it with confidence and joy because I’ve discovered this: what felt like failure turned out to be success; what felt like loss, turned out to be gain, and what felt like losing ground turned out to be a faith-builder.

If this is a challenging day for you, I hope that you will be encouraged by the words of Scripture, as well as my reflective poem.

 He is here when I cannot see him
 Here when I cannot feel him
 Here when I cannot hear him
 Jesus is here.
 He is here when I am not sleeping
 Here when my body’s aching
 Here when I have no words to pray
 Jesus is here.
 He is here when the wind is blowing
 Here when the rain is falling
 Here when I see no rainbow
 Jesus is here.
 He is here when the night is long
 Here when my friends have gone
 Here when I have no song
 Jesus is here.
 In these times, when faith is tested,
 I remember his promises 
 I recall his faithfulness
 I review the times he answered prayer
 In this way, my roots grow deeper 
 Although the path is steeper
 I do not, in fear, turn back
 Up ahead, I know I’ll see his face
 In these times, when faith is tested
 I get up and read some Scripture
 I write down the truth I find there
 I compose a prayer response
 In this way, my faith grows stronger
 Although the night is longer
 I do not, in doubt, lose hope
 Up ahead, I know I’ll see his face
 He is here when I cannot see him
 Here when I cannot feel him
 Here when I cannot hear him
 Jesus is here.
 Jane Ault

Living in Jesus’ Presence

He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul; (Psalm 23: 3 NASB

Many years ago, I read the little booklet “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence. It stirred in me a deep desire to live my daily life with a conscious awareness of Jesus with me.

I believe this is what Jesus was desiring for all of his followers in his prayer to Our Father when he said these words: “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

If I wake up in the night or wake early in the morning when the world around me is quiet, it’s a great time to give thanks for Jesus’ presence and open up the ears and eyes of my spirit to any message he has for me.

The poems I’m sharing, today reveal something of what it means for me to live in Jesus’ presence. I hope they stir in your heart a deep desire to establish this practice.

The path of sorrow and grief
 Is turned into joy and relief
 When we see Jesus
 Who walks beside us
 Our eyes are opened to reality
 We were loved from eternity
 That which was crushed in our soul
 Is healed! We are made whole. 

  Jane Ault

 If I want to live in Jesus’ presence
 I must not go where he is absent—
 Anyplace the devil tempts me,
 Anywhere that the world attracts me,
 Somewhere the flesh would coax me.
 I must stop all conversations—
 With the devil, he’s a pseud,
 With the world, they are rude,
 With the flesh, it is lewd.
 Why would I seek such conversations?
 If I want to live in Jesus’ presence
 I must listen to the Spirit—
 Always hear what he is saying,
 Always go where he is leading,
 Always do what’s wise and loving.
 I must have more conversations—
 With the Spirit, he is wise,
 With my Father, he never lies,
 With my Lord, he takes no bribes.
 He gives me grace and wisdom.
 Jane Ault


 Father-God, I praise you for your mothering heart—
 The love which you have for all creation;
 You feed the sparrow and provide a cliff for the goat.
 You send the sunshine and the rain.
 You smile on children of every nation.
 Your heart delights in their praises.
 Holy Spirit, I praise you for your gracious disposition—
 You accurately reflect the Father’s heart;
 With joy, you continually honor Jesus.
 With patience, you convince the skeptic of truth.
 With gentleness, you assure the fearful of forgiveness.
 With generosity, you give knowledge and wisdom to the humble.
 Jesus Christ, I praise you for your profound obedience—
 The astounding humility which you displayed while on earth;
 You knew the heart of the Father.
 You trusted him without reservation.
 You laid aside your rightful, godly-status.
 You lived as a servant and died as a criminal.
 Holy Spirit, produce the heart of the God-head in your church, today.
 So that in union with you we may labor and give birth;
 Give us perseverance in our prayers
 Give us endurance in our labors
 Give us steadfast faith, unwavering hope, and unconditional love
 Give us the joy of bringing many into your Kingdom.
 Father-God, I ask you to bless the expectant mothers—
 Those with children in their wombs;
 Show them how to care for their bodies and nourish their unborn child
 Let their hearts be filled with peace so their babes feel secure.
 Give them discernment in their choices so the life they hold flourishes.
 Give them rest when they are weary and protect them from disease and injury.
 Father-God, I ask you to bless the mothers whose children are with them
 Those who are happy, those who are weary, and those who feel teary;
 Show them fresh creative ways to express love to their children.
 Give them insight to understand and appreciate the uniqueness of each child.
 Encourage their hearts with your grace so they discipline with kindness
 Let them feel so secure in your love that they never seek their child’s approval
 Father-God, I ask you to bless the mothers whose children are missing—
 Some are prospering, some are staying, and some have been buried;
 Holy Spirit, fill each sad and lonely mother-heart with your comforting presence.
 Banish their feelings of failure and guilt and assure them of forgiveness.
 Give them the faith and energy to persist in their prayers
 And bless them with the family and friends they need to support them.
 Father-God, I ask you to bless the women who don’t or can’t have children—
 Those who may feel left out or may be ignored on this holiday:
 Holy Spirit, heal their broken hearts and fill them with laughter.
 Jesus, bless them so that children are drawn to them as they were to you
 Send them the orphans, the wounded, and the so-called “difficult” children
 Give them honor in mentoring and joy in seeing the Spirit bring forth new birth.
 Father, I bring these requests to you in the blessed name of Jesus;
 It is through him, alone, that I have the right to pray.
 Knowing that you will answer me in ways far beyond what I can imagine,
 I leave them at your throne with gratitude and thanksgiving.
 May 10, 2019
 Jane Ault 

Caring for Crushed and Broken Turtles

How many are your works, Lord!
   In wisdom you made them all;
   the earth is full of your creatures. O Lord, how manifold (Psalm 104:24 NIV)

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18 ESV)

I don’t usually insert such ugly, sad, and “unpleasant” photos into my blog posts. However, I hope you will not quickly reject this post but read it to the end.  I think turtles are fantastic creatures and tears filled my eyes when I saw this crushed and broken one–a lowly reptile but still beautiful in God’s eyes.

 Out of the corner of my eye I noticed it, on the opposite side of the road, as I walked along the highway. My immediate impulse was to avoid it. Up until that moment, I was inhaling the fresh air, watching the movement of white clouds moving across the blue sky, and admiring a tiny green fern growing in the hillside at the edge of the road.  

So I turned my head and bypassed the turtle on the other side of the road. Then, sensing a nudge from the Holy Spirit, I turned back. At first, I wished I’d kept on walking. The sight made me feel nauseated. Quickly, I realized there was a lesson in this for me. The turtle could not make it across the highway because it was too slow. Whoever hit it did not stop and notice the damage they’d caused.

At first the lesson God had for me came in questions. Who is “not making it” in the world where I live? Who is being ignored, dismissed, run over and crushed because in some way they are “slow”?

These are the people I quickly thought of: those whose skin color is not white; those, who in some way, are mentally or physically challenged; those who are defenseless—the unborn, the abused; those fleeing from persecution and —refugees, those who can’t afford health insurance or the cost of higher education; the elderly . . .

Which of these people are my neighbors? Do I see their pain and brokenness? Or am I so busy counting my blessings, or so absorbed in my own struggles, I don’t see these crushed and broken “turtles” around me? Either the crushed and broken reptile or the broken-hearted human whom God created and loves.

Regarding the crushed turtle—my dear husband removed it from the middle of the road and buried the remains. He is a gentle-hearted man, who notices and stops to care for all of God’s crushed and broken turtles.

I am asking God to open my eyes and my ears to see and hear the broken and crushed turtles (of every kind) in my neighborhood, and to open my heart and hands to love and protect him with the love and wisdom of Jesus.

This story has a happy ending. The next day my husband found another turtle in the middle of the road. He picked it up and carried it to the lake shore, where it crawled away in safety.


Jesus said, “Two sparrows cost only a penny, but not even one of them can die without your Father’s knowing it. . . Don’t be afraid. You are worth much more than many sparrows”

(Matthew 10: 29 and 31 NCV).

I’m thankful for the office space I have in my home. On some days, I don’t take time to get dressed before I start writing. Neither do I bother combing my hair. Before I forget them, I want to quickly put down the words that are in my mind. Words of a song or poem which the Holy Spirit has encouraged me with even before I got out of bed!

This morning I did get dressed and while doing so thought about the phrase “put your best foot forward.” In other words “look good.” I’m so thankful that we don’t have to look good when we come before God. What he wants is not our “best” foot but our “bare” foot.

When we come before him like a lowly sparrow, admitting our nakedness, vulnerability, and need, he receives us in his loving arms and clothes us with his robe of mercy. Out the truth of that experience this morning, I composed the following poem/song.

 Come to Jesus with all your need
Hear him before the Father plead
A Righteous Advocate is he
Securing mercy full and free

With deep compassion Jesus prays
He lived for us for many days
Hungry and poor, tempted by Hell
Yet to a Lie, he never fell.
Come like a child with trusting heart
Who knows she is not very smart
Rest in your Father’s loving arm
He will protect you from all harm
From that sweet place of victory sing
Compose new anthems for your King
When hearing them, all devils flee
They cannot stand such joy and glee
Follow Jesus throughout the day
Learn to do things in his way
Feed the hungry and clothe the poor
Receive the stranger at your door
Be content with what you have
For fame and riches, do not grab
They will destroy your inner peace
Your love for Jesus soon will cease
Come to Jesus with all your need
Hear him before the Father plead
A Righteous Advocate is he
Securing mercy full and free

Jane Ault

Run with Enthusiasm and Energy

I love this photo because it depicts the enthusiasm and energy we need to run the race God has set before us. (I, also, love it because that’s my grandson out front!)

Sadly, after enthusiastically writing my blog, A Vision for Retirement, on March 8, I posted nothing for 6 weeks. I felt like quitting.

Have you ever felt like that? Had doubts about the calling and work God has given you to do?  I have. For various reasons and at numerous times, I’ve felt discouraged and thought I would write no more.
It was partly because of traveling and visiting family, partly because of fatigue, but mostly because of apathy (a feeling that it’s useless) that I stopped writing. On Easter Sunday, the Holy Spirit brought me out of my pit of discouragement.

He encouraged me through Scripture, through text messages and letters from friends, and through the gift of a beautiful violet handed to me by a dear friend.
And, today, as I read and meditated on these words: “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless (1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT), he resurrected my desire and commitment to write.
What motivates us to be enthusiastic and immovable? How do we know our work is not useless? That little word “so” at the beginning of this verse refers to the previous discussion of the resurrection of Jesus. Because he rose from the dead that we are assured that he will keep all of his promises. Because he rose from the dead, we have the power to overcome apathy, energy to pursue Jesus, and assurance that our work is of value.
Every moment of every day, God’s grace and power are available to us. We simply need to recognize our need and ask for help, as my following poem declares.

Every moment, every hour,
I need your help; I need your power.
My spirit is willing; my body is weak.
Help me pray and stay awake,
Alert to dangers and to snares.
Save me from the swamp of “earthly cares”—
Urgencies, which really are not;
Worries, which weigh-down my heart;
Everything that steals my energy and time;
Teach me to kneel instead of climb.
Pride diverts me from your path;
Daily, help me conquer that!
Especially, now that I am older,
I can’t afford clutter and disorder
My memory has enough to do.
It can’t constantly review
Where I’ve been or what I’ve done;
I’ve got to put some blinders on.
Look straight ahead, not turn aside;
In your words of truth abide.
Jesus, be with me every hour.
I need your help; I need your power.
Jane Ault

A Vision of Retirement

Aaseleagh Waterfall. One of my favorite photos, taken when John and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary in Ireland. (Sept. 2007)

The picture John and I had of retirement is a little different than what we imaged it would be fifty years, ago. Back then, the thought of retirement was not even on our radar. My plan was, and still is, to never get “old”! Somehow, the years have slipped away and we are there. Retired? After a sort. “Old”? It depends . . .

After yesterday’s overly energetic exercise session, I do feel older; however, as John says, “You are not as old you feel; you are as young as you think.”

Recently, we’ve been reading the book of Philippians, a letter written by Paul during the last days of his life. Because he’d been telling others about Jesus, Paul had been thrown in prison. He was writing from a cold, damp, prison cell. Nothing easy. Not the ideal retirement set up. Yet, his message is one of joy.

We are sharing insights from the life and teachings of this early Christian leader with a small group of people in our church.

I’ve also been reflecting on other New Testament books, authored by Paul, and putting together the story of this devoted Jesus-follower.

I wrote the following poem in honor of that powerful saint. It’s also a prayer response to God of how I want to live in these retirement years. I feel thankful for the strength and health given to me.

 Compelled by love, not pride nor guilt,
Fearlessly pursuing Jesus;
Yet, trembling as he writes a letter
From a frigid prison cell.
Formerly a Christian-hater,
Intent on murdering them all.
Struck down by Jesus on the highway,
Blinded to receive his sight
Pharisee turned into servant,
Accepting his share of pain and hardship,
Not demanding money, well deserved,
For his acts of loving service.
Jesus, this is how I want to live.
Transform my heart; renew my mind,
So that others see your character
In what I say and in what I do.
Keep me from retiring, as I age,
Into the luxuries of this era,
Where it’s assumed I can lay down
My skills and my servant mantle.
Until my last breath on this earth,
I want to be involved in your work.
Praying, writing, listening, teaching--
Give me strength and courage, Lord.
Jane Ault

Someone Who Matters

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,
and he saves those whose spirits have been crushed.
Psalm 34:18 NCV

Yesterday was Valentines Day. A few weeks ago, my husband announced that he would be preparing for a colonoscopy on February 14th and jokingly said, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

We both laughed and I knew he would not be taking me out for dinner. Of course, I would have enjoyed it. But having been married for fifty-one years, my assurance of his love is hardly dependent on how we spend Valentine’s Day!

For some people, Valentine’s Day means tears and loneliness instead of smiles and closeness. Those who live in an abusive relationship, those who’ve lost a family member, those who are retired and/or have lost some of their abilities, those struggling with addiction, those separated from family members and living in a culture with customs different than their own, and those in prison can feel, and be, left out and disappointed on Valentine’s Day.

In addition, there are people who live in an inner prison of fear, pain, and discouragement. They may have a crushed spirit, so even if they have social connections, they feel depressed. There have been times when I’ve felt that way. I’m so grateful for the friends who have taken the time to listen to me and remind me that I have worth.

I feel very sad when I hear statements such as “I don’t feel as if I matter.” Anyone can feel that way. One day, after hearing those words from a friend and empathizing with her, I shared the following poem, which I’d written a few days earlier. Reassured of her worth and the value of her gifts, she responded with laughter.

I hope you will read it, believe its message, and pass it on.

 You Matter to Someone
You matter to someone
‘Cause there’s no one like you;
And for someone out there
Nobody else will do.
No one else is designed
To create, say, and do
The magnificent things
So distinctive to you.
Please share your perspective
Your unique point-of-view.
There’s someone who needs it,
Someone waiting to hear it,
Who’ll gladly receive it;
Although others may not.
Don’t let that trouble you;
Don’t give it much thought.
Do not let your talent
Lie idle; it will rot.
Without cultivation
It will rot and decay.
With care, plant and trim it
Put it out for display.
Then joyfully share it
With someone who needs it—
A someone who matters
And needs to believe it.
Jane Ault

 Most importantly, remember this: “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NCV).

Are You Enjoying Obedience?

Joyful are people of integrity,
    who follow the instructions of the Lord.

Psalm 119:1 NLT

The word “obey” and the concept of obedience is not one that I hear spoken and discussed in the Christian community as much as I used to. Yet Jesus frequently used it. He said, “Those who know my commands and obey them are the ones who love me, and my Father will love those who love me. I will love them and will show myself to them” (John 14:21NCV).

In Jesus’ mind obedience was connected with love and trust. Unfortunately, because of their sad experience, for many people, obedience is associated with abuse, loss of freedom, and broken trust.

How can anyone who’s experienced these things, under the false claim that this is what God wants, think that obedience could be positive, healthy and enjoyable?

Jesus never calls us to do anything that is evil. He does not tell us to throw away our mind. He tells us to count the cost and fully respects our “yes” or “no”.

Another block to obedience, one I often face, is the resistance of the sin nature (called “the flesh”). Again, Jesus provided for this by giving us the companionship and power of the Holy Spirit.

I “digested” the meaning of all this in a poem, which is a form of prayer for me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic of obedience.

 It is possible to obey--
 The law with its demands has gone.
The comfort of grace has come.
By the Spirit, I trust and obey.
It is delightful to obey--
For I know by glad experience
The sweetness of Christ’s presence
By the Spirit, I trust and obey
It is possible to obey--
 I’m not concerned with pleasing me
From that bondage, I’m set free
By the Spirit, I trust and obey
It is powerful to obey--
Through strength and persistence,
I conquer my resistance.
By the Spirit, I trust and obey
It is possible to obey--
‘Cause Jesus who kept God’s commands
Gives me power to follow them
By the Spirit, I trust and obey.
It is satisfying to obey--
With a heart full of gratitude
And joy as my attitude.
By the Spirit, I trust and obey.

Jane Ault

DON’T Give in to FEAR

Does your life feel like an unfinished puzzle? 
Do you fear you may have missed some important pieces (experiences)?
God saw you while you were in your mother’s womb. (Ps. 139)
His plans for you were and are good. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I believe God has gifted me and called me to write. He inspires me almost every morning with words of a poem or lyrics of a song. Should I be content with that? I don’t know. I still want to complete the more difficult task of writing and publishing another book. I haven’t given up that desire, yet obedience to Jesus is the higher desire I’m committed to.

Fear that I won’t complete it tempts to hurriedly finish my book, without doing the research and praying needed for clarity and accuracy. Fear that it will be imperfect (which will undoubtedly happen) tempts me to quit working on it.

God is faithful. He knows my fears and recently, through the prayers of a good friend, gave me the encouragement I needed to continue working on my current manuscript. Fear is one of the greatest obstacles to finishing the good work God gifts us for and calls us to do.

Today, my challenge is this: “Let us strip off every weight [fear] that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 NLT).

How do we do this? We  keep our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. (Hebrews 12: 2 NLT)

My prayer for all of you who read this blog, as well as myself, is that we will not cave in to the temptation of fear but faithfully pursue whatever good thing God has put on our hearts to do. We know when fear comes, the Spirit “will show [us] a way out so that [we] can endure” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT).

Constantly, I face temptation;
From it, there is no vacation.
But by the Holy Spirit’s power
I can triumph every hour.
If I listen to his voice,
I will make the proper choice.
This is God’s word to me:
“I will give you victory!”
Obsessive and compulsive sins
Are not obstacles to him.
This can be the year I win
The struggles I’ve continued in.
As I face another year,
It’s with hope not despair.
Greater victory lies ahead.
Jesus lives! He is not dead!
I’ll not give up God-given desire;
By his grace, I’ll climb higher,
Conquer giants in my life,
Take territories without strife,
Peacefully negotiate.
In loving patience, I’ll relate.
When temptation faces me,
To my Savior, I will flee.
To my Savior, I will run.
This earthly race will be won.
Jane Ault

Share Your Awesomeness

Don’t bury yourself and your talent in a snowdrift of fear!

“Do you know that I am awesome? That I am amazing?” These were the words the speaker began with, as she addressed the children who’d gathered at the front of the church to hear their sermon.

“Do you know why I am awesome?” she continued. “Because God says I am.” The point of her sermon was that because of the way God made us and gifted us, we are all awesome; however, no one will know how awesome we are unless we do something with what we’ve been given.

I don’t know how much the children needed that little pep talk but I needed it. I grew up believing it was wrong to talk about my accomplishments because “you are not supposed to blow your own horn.” Also, I interpreted Scriptures that talked about self-denial to mean that I must quietly remain in the background and wait for someone else to discover that I have something to offer.

If we do nothing with our gift, if we hide it, then we will be cheating others who would benefit from it. We need to “fan into flame” the gift God has given to us. (2 Timothy 1:6)

I am sharing my poems because I don’t want to hide the gift God has given me. Do you have a gift that you are hiding? Someone needs it. I hope that this year you will gain the courage to share your gift. I hope you will be a risk-taker and . . .

Try something different
Try something new
Try something you’ve been wanting to do
Take the first step
Make an attempt
It doesn’t have to be written in cement
You can be flexible
You can make changes
Learning occurs most often in stages
Try something different
Try something new
Do what the Spirit has been calling you to
Trust in the Father
Rely on the grace
Given by Jesus who stood in your place
Move out with courage
Do it with zest
You don’t have to be perfect
Just give it your best!

Jane Ault

What it Means to Choose God

Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose.
(Psalm 25:12 NLT)

This year, I will be posting poetry or song lyrics which I’ve written in the past or am currently writing. This is the easiest, most enjoyable, and possibly the most effective way for me to express my heart and mind.

I think my poetry speaks for itself. So without further explanation, here is my poem for this week.

Choosing God means choosing prayer,
Not for a few minutes in the morning
But periodically and intentionally going there
Throughout the day, throughout the night.

Choosing God means choosing grace
Placing my confidence in him—in Jesus,
In his ability to direct and correct me
By his Spirit, through his Word.
Choosing God means choosing truth
Seeking it, loving it, owning it,
Internalizing his word, digesting it,
Adjusting to it— renovating my brain.
Choosing God means choosing action,
Standing against lies of the evil one,
Never passively accepting them,
Standing up for others, helping them stand.
Choosing God means choosing pain,
Saying “goodbye” to some people,
Some positions, some profits I could gain,
Seeing all pleasures inferior to Christ.
Choosing God means choosing joy,
Moving forward in my pursuit of him,
In my desire to know him, to become like him,
Doing it intentionally, willingly, constantly.
Choosing God means choosing love,
Learning from him what that is,
Loving him, loving myself, loving others,
Every sister, every brother, rejecting no one.
Jane Ault

Christmas Connections

I won’t be celebrating Christmas in the presence of my children or grandchildren this year. One daughter and her family are traveling to a vacation spot outside the country. John and I had a wonderful telephone conversation with them, yesterday. On Christmas Day, we will be talking with our other daughter and family who, like us, will be hosting Christmas dinner for family and friends.

Phone calls and texting provide wonderful ways to connect. Nevertheless, it is limiting. How does an emoticon hug feel compare to a real hug? I like receiving them. Yet, something is missing. I long and wait for the day when real hugs can be exchanged.

Text and photos mean a lot to me. I like sending them and receiving them.  How do they compare to the words spoken by the flesh-and-blood person who’s standing in my presence? I enjoy the texts and pictures; yet, something is missing. I long and wait for the times when that flesh-and-blood loved one is in my presence and we can converse together.

Although our children and grandchildren will not be present at our dinner table on Christmas Day, John and I will not be sitting alone. We’ve invited friends, who like us, will for some reason be missing face-to-face family connections.

Perhaps today’s poem expresses my thoughts regarding connection more effectively than the above paragraphs. I hope you, my readers and friends, will not take it as a complaint. (That’s where limitations of the internet kick in.

We all sit alone
With our tablets and our phones
And think we are connected
But when face to face
Our anxieties increase
And we retreat in silence
God, what do you see?
Is this all there’s meant to be?
Or is there something better?
We all sit alone
With our tablets and our phones
And say,” we are connected”.
But emoticons don’t touch
Or tell us very much
About what’s deep within us
Gradually we lose
Our abilities, unused
Our brains become rewired
We all sit alone
With our tablets and our phones
And pretend we’re connected.

God, what do you think?
Is there something out of sync?
Do I, alone, perceive it?
As I sit alone
With my tablet and my phone
And declare, “I’m connected.”
Jane Ault

I truly appreciate each one of you and pray that you will have a wonderful Christmas. Let us rejoice in God’s grace and seek the help of the Holy Spirit to connect with him who in the form of Jesus made a face-to-face, flesh and blood connection with humanity over 2000 years ago and has promised to come again.

Something More Important Than Schedules


Time management has always been challenging for me. I can’t count the number of times I’ve designed and redesigned schedules. I  don’t stick to any of them very long. A schedule feels like a straight-jacket. A restriction that blocks my creativity.  Yet, I know my time on earth is limited.

The Psalmist said, “the days of our life . . .  contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years”(Psalm 90:10). God has blessed me with eighty years. I want to make the best use of whatever years, days, hours, and moments my generous God continues to give to me.

If schedules don’t work for me, is there a different way for me to manage time? 

Part of the answer to my prayer/question came this week in the words of Dallas Willard. In his book, The Allure of Gentleness, he talks about the concept of redeeming the time, a phrase used in the book of Ephesians.  To redeem something means to cash in, by back, make useful. How can we make the best use of time? Willard’s answer: “by interacting with God where you are”!

Interacting with God means having a 24/7 conversation with Jesus. Isn’t that exciting? It’s another aspect of practicing the presence of God. By keeping that conversation going, I’m able within the boundaries of time to love God and love my neighbor as myself. Is there any better use of time than that? 

Does this mean I can forget about schedules? No. I still schedule my various activities, but as the following poem says, I  don’t watch the hands of the clock. I watch Jesus. 

The clock moves on . . .
but God is still.
Hurried flesh knows not his will.

Like Mary, we must turn aside,
deny ambition,
give up pride,
leave our projects,
choose to wait.

We cannot love unless we hate.
We cannot live unless we die.

God will not rule
while we still try.
He will not force us to repent . . .
but soon our days
will all be spent.

Jesus waits . . .
time hurries on.
Choose Jesus now before time’s gone.

2002 Jane Ault


Time is for loving
Time is for caring
Time is for doing God’s will.

Time is for learning
Time is for growing
Time just never stands still.

Time is for daring
Time is for risking
Time is for choosing a yes or a no.

Time is for hoping
Time is for dreaming
Sometimes, time seems too slow.

Time is for singing
Time is for dancing
Time is for praising the Lord.

Time is for sowing
Time is for reaping
Time is for saying a word.

Time is for crying
Time is for weeping
Time is for healing my pain.

Time is for now
Time is for using
Love, done in time, remains.

1995 Jane Ault

What Does “Being Perfect” Mean?


This week several people told me that when they made mistakes, they were very hard on themselves. They wanted to be perfect and they condemned themselves for failures. To live with someone who expects 100% in everything can be very difficult, especially if that person is yourself. 

I know. For years I lived with that self-expectation. The belief that I must be perfect came from a misunderstanding of Jesus’s words, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 ESV). With the help of my theologian husband, I learned the true meaning of Jesus’s words.

Perfection Redefined

The word used by Jesus (that in English is translated ‘perfect’) comes from the Greek word ‘teleios’. Teleios means mature.  When Jesus said, “you must be perfect”, he was talking about inward character change. 

 Character change requires time. There’s no quick fix. No 30-second cure. We don’t become butterflies overnight. We must remain in the cocoon of God’s protective and nourishing love. Taste his goodness. Receive his instruction. Saturate ourselves with his beauty. In doing so, we become like Jesus.

Gradually, we are transformed.

  • We learn to love what Jesus loved (righteousness) and learning to hate what he hated (wickedness). (Hebrews 1:9NIV)
  • We learn to honor our heavenly Father as Jesus did. People rejected him, but he did not care about his own honor. (John 8:49, 50NIV)
  • We learn to value Jesus did. “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being . . . he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8 New Living Translation).
  • We learn to respond in every frustrating, difficult and painful situation like Jesus did. He consistently displayed what the Bible calls the fruit of righteousness: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22, 23 NIV)

As we are learning (growing toward perfection), we will make mistakes.

We will fail. When that happens, these are the choices we make:

  • We face the truth or we deny it.
  • We accept responsibility or we blame others
  • We receive forgiveness or we condemn ourselves

The following poem describes the choices God makes.

God is patient with us when we’re learning new skills.
He gently instructs us to wipe up our spills.
He does not berate us or call us cruel names
But speaks with kindness, remembering our frame.

He shows us the way when knowledge we lack,
He explains by example. He never attacks us,
Because of our ignorance or because of our fear.
He surrounds us with love and fills us with cheer.

With hope, we continue to flourish and grow.
Empowered by faith, we conquer each foe!
Strengthened by grace, our hearts feel secure.
Because of God’s goodness, we can mature!

Jane Ault 


Becoming a Gracious Woman


Yesterday, a friend of mine gave me a very kind comment. She said, “You are a gracious woman.” I appreciated the affirmation and thanked her. Is this true? Am I a gracious woman?

When I got up this morning I started thinking about what it means to be gracious. I reviewed the story of Joseph written in the book of Genesis. What an example of graciousness! He suffered abuse and he was falsely accused. Yet, he was neither revengeful nor bitter.  Where did he find the strength to overcome these natural tendencies? He experienced the grace and goodness of God.

God blessed him with a wife and two sons. He named them in honor of God and as a reminder of God’s goodness to him. This is how the story is recorded in the book of Genesis:  

“Two sons were born to Joseph before the famine came. Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, was their mother. Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, saying, “Certainly God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s house.” He named the second child Ephraim, saying, “Certainly God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.” (Genesis 41:50-52 NET)

God has been as gracious to me as he was to Joseph. He’s given me a compassionate and gracious husband, a precious family, and many dear friends. More than that, he’s given me the companionship and of the Holy Spirit, the Friend whom Jesus said he would send to all of his followers.

Because of his gracious blessings, I am not bitter and angry. I am not focused on inner pain. I am free from shame. I have self-worth. I can look beyond myself and reach out to others.

Does this mean I am a gracious woman?  Sometimes, I am. Sometimes, I am not. God, alone, is gracious 100 percent of the time. My desire is to continue growing in grace, each day to become more and more like Jesus. In the words of this song by BJ Thomas, I want to be more and more like Jesus.


Who is a Safe Shepherd and Who is Not?


It’s been distressing to watch the Supreme Court justice nominee’s hearing and the events leading up to it. Issues of personal safety certainly are at stake. I feel very sad. However, I’m not stating my position regarding the people questioned because I want you, my friends and readers, to think for yourselves. I hope you will not stop reading but consider my criteria for making wise decisions about leadership in general.

As the following proverb states, we must all learn to be discerning.  

“A naive person believes everything,
but the shrewd person discerns his steps.”- Proverbs 14:15 NET

Naïve is not a word that I often see on Facebook. I think it deserves some consideration. What does it mean to be naive? This is one dictionary definition: “having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information”.

As the above Proverb tells us, there’s a danger in being naïve.  We have a tendency to take shortcuts and to make quick judgments and hasty decisions without thoughtfully examining evidence and asking pertinent questions.

We can be tricked into believing safe people are dangerous and dangerous people are safe. How do we know who is safe and who is not? Jesus gave us an important clue when he said, “Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.” He did not say, “Beware of sheep in wolves’ clothing” because a sheep never wears a wolf’s clothing. Sheep are not out to deceive people. They’re just set on following a path and they need guidance in order to find the right path. They need a shepherd.

When Jesus looked at the crowds of people in the world around him, he said that they were like sheep without a shepherd. I don’t think much has changed since his day. The world is full of sheep. Sheep can easily be deceived. They need a shepherd.

That shepherd needs to be a safe person. A safe person is someone with integrity. Someone who never deceives us. Someone who always tells the truth. Someone who is patient, kind, and good. Someone who does not expect perfection. Someone who does not condemn us when we fall down. Someone who walks beside us and helps us recognize dangers, not only points them out but teaches us to recognize the dangers ourselves. Someone who teaches us how to have discernment.

We need to have knowledge and discernment. We need to ask questions. We need to know what questions to ask. Appearances can be deceiving. A safe shepherd does not go around comparing one sheep with other sheep. They are all equally cared for and protected. He or she does not condemn sheep. He or she does not go around causing divisions among the sheep. A safe shepherd brings sheep together and teaches them to live in peace, unity, and understanding.

Because his or her self-worth is settled, a safe shepherd confidently makes decisions. He or she is not looking for approval or even acceptance. Nor is a safe shepherd hungry for power or control. A safe shepherd has control of his or her own life, shows us how to gain control of ourselves, and assists us in escaping the control of abusive shepherds.

When I look at the world today, I’m concerned. I see a lot of naïve sheep and very few safe shepherds. Yet I do not despair because Jesus is still alive. As we look to him, listen to his words, and follow the guidance of the Spirit he has given us, we will gain discernment and not be deceived by wolves dressed as shepherds.  

Prudence and naivety were walking down the road.
Soon they met a stranger who offered them some food.

Naivety just swallowed it; she thought all things were good.
But prudence first examined it; she wisely understood . . .

Appearance can deceive us; we must be very shrewd.
Things, which at first taste sweet, can turn sour when they’re chewed.

Jane Ault 2002 

The Dynamic Dance of Choosing Grace


As followers of Jesus, how do become like him in character? What is our responsibility? Do we actively participate or do we passively receive his grace? In the process of developing spiritual, mental,  and emotional integrity, what is the balance between responsibility and grace?  It’s helpful for me to picture this relationship as a dance, which I’ve not yet perfected! I’m continually learning new versions.

This how I describe it in my book, Emotional Freedom

The Dance  of Choosing Grace

 Jesus does not compel us to obey him. He empowers us to overcome evil and destructive passions, but it does not happen automatically. It’s a shared effort. Eugene Peterson, in The Message, uses the phrase (Matthew 11:28–30) to describe the shared relationship that Jesus invites us to have with him.

I love that “unforced rhythms of grace” phrase. It reminds me of a dance. I’m not a great dancer. My least well-developed intelligence is kinesthetic. When I was in college, I had to take beginning swimming twice in order to pass it. Kinesthetic intelligence is one of my husband’s highest developed abilities. He loves to dance. I love watching him dance. We do it as a part of our worship on Sunday mornings. I managed to dance with him at our daughters’ weddings without crushing his toes.

The concept of dancing with God delights me. I call this dance with Jesus “Choosing Grace.” It has two basic steps—grace and responsibility. Grace is God’s step of love toward me. Responsibility is my step of love toward God. Jesus said, “If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love” (John 15:10 MSG). 

Choosing grace is about dancing in such a close relationship with Jesus that his nature becomes a part of us, motivating our decisions and empowering our behavioral changes. Here is a clear Biblical statement describing the interaction between grace and responsibility: “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12–13 NIV).

Choosing grace is about acting on our decisions so that our behavior will change. However, it’s much more than a how-to-do list for selecting and practicing new behaviors. Through this dynamic dance with Jesus, we are transformed, and we become like him. How do responsibility and grace work together to bring about character change and freedom from destructive desires and emotions? There are two common misunderstandings.

Problems on the Dance Floor

Some of us focus entirely on God’s grace, and others of us focus entirely on our responsibility. Some of us depend on God to do all the dancing, while others of us leave him standing on the dance floor and take off in our own independent rhythm.

When we place responsibility—as well as grace—totally in God’s lap, our slogan becomes “let go and let God.” God did not design us as robots, and he does not bypass our will. We have the responsibility of choosing whether or not we will rely on God’s empowering grace.

When we place responsibility on our shoulders and forget about grace we take up the “just-say-no!” slogan. Our program of self-reform does not usually work very well or last very long.  The only way we can be successful by just saying no to our destructive desires is by lying to ourselves—overlooking our slip-ups.

On any day, I may deceive myself into thinking I can stay away from the chocolate ice cream which gives me digestive problems. Perhaps by God’s grace, I’ve been successful for a few weeks. Now, I think my willpower is sufficient. I no longer need God’s assistance. What happens? I’m so focused on my performance that my craving takes over.

I tend to swing from one end of the spectrum to the other. Sometimes, I act as if God is totally responsible for my growth. In passive irresponsibility, I refuse to take initiative. I don’t anticipate problems, and I don’t plan how I can obey. I sing “I want what God wants” while waiting for him to exercise the will he gave to me. What’s the result? Nothing happens. Why doesn’t this work?

God will neither take over my will nor override the choices I make. His freedom of choice gift includes responsibility to act and accountability for our action or failure to act. 

Questions for reflection:

On which end of the responsibility/grace spectrum do you tend to swing?
Do you need to take more action steps or do you need to focus on God’s grace?


An Appeal for Graciousness

The conflicts within our nation deeply grieve me. How can blaming, name-calling, and other techniques of evasion affect healing in any of us? There’s no easy and simple solution. As others have notably recognized, it’s only by conquering the enemies within us that we can conquer the enemies outside of us.

When facing an angry crowd of self-righteous people bent on stoning an abused and “sinful” woman, Jesus declared, “Whoever among you is guiltless may be the first to throw a stone at her.” One by one the accusers dropped their stones and left.

Who in our day is willing and able to balance truth and grace so effectively? For deep and lasting conflict resolution, both are essential. In his book, Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud offers valuable insights and practical help for gaining and maintaining this truth-grace balance.

Cloud’s description of the “wise”, the “foolish”, and the “evil” person is outstanding. While he points out the necessity of ending some relationships, he does not advocate unnecessary endings. He gives clear guidelines for conflict resolution so that we can cultivate healthy seeds in our souls–gentleness, kindness, goodness, peace, and love.

Neither grace nor truth standing alone can save us from destructive seeds within us, such as arrogance, hatred, revenge, envy, greed, and apathy. 

 Truth, by itself, denounces and destroys persons, yet does nothing to empower healthy change. Grace, by itself, overlooks seeds of destruction and falls prey to its own and others unhealthy tendencies.

In today’s poem, I’ve tried to express my concern in a positive manner. It’s not my intention to name names or take sides in the political arena. It’s my desire and hope that we will all choose to become the kind of citizens that promote greatness in the entire world.

We often hurt each other in unexpected ways;
We don’t mean to do it; disease makes sad our days.

An invasive cancer resides in every soul and spirit;
We may refuse to see this; yet, it is inherent.

Self-righteous denial blinds us to the truth
And foolishly we trust those evil and uncouth.

When arrogant defiance is enthroned in our land
How long can we survive? How long can we stand?

Reconciliation will come when to this we agree:
We all chose foolishness and error to some degree.

Humility is the grace that empowers leadership;
It saves us from harshness; yet, strengthens our grip,

Giving us the courage to remove all cancerous growth;
Let us not resign in despair but retain faith and hope.

9/7/2018 Jane Ault

What I Learned Through My Summer Scripture Memory Challenge


Thanks to all of you who’ve continued to follow my posts during the summer. The challenge I made was more difficult than I expected. I did memorize some Scripture but not as much I expected to. These are the lessons I learned.

I must adjust my challenges to the demands of reality. Being a senior citizen means I can’t memorize something as quickly as I did when I was a teenager. Neither can I retain it as well. It’s information overload. It’s unhelpful when I am traveling and visiting family, to make Scripture memory as much of a priority as it is when I’m at home.  If my focus is on the amount of Scripture I must memorize for the day, I won’t hear what God is saying or doing in a conversation with my family and friends.

The Holy Spirit won’t let me forget the lines of Scripture he knows I need hear. Each moment of the day, he alerts me to the word of comfort, correction, or understanding I need. While my husband and I traveled crowded highways, this phrase that I’d memorized from Psalm 121 kept me from becoming anxious: “The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.” Often during the summer, the Holy Spirit reminded me of this Psalm 15 phrase (referring to the behavior of those who have the privilege of his company): “whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others.” In several situations, it helped me to keep my mouth shut!  

Meditation is more valuable than memorization. Mediation is a way of internalizing the truths of Scripture. I discuss them with the Spirit. I make them my own.  I put them into action. Rather than focusing on how much Scripture I can memorize, I need to focus on how well I’m aligning my heart and will with the Scripture I’m memorizing.  How am I responding to God’s messages?

Living according to Scriptural truths is a bigger and better challenge than memorizing it. That’s what will bring me a lasting and satisfying reward. For Jesus said,  “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.  When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash” (Matthew 7:24-27 NLT).

Will I continue memorizing Scripture? Yes, but in smaller chunks. My focus will be more on responding to what I read. In the last two weeks, I did not memorize any of Psalm 40. Instead, I meditated on it and wrote the following response. It concludes the poem I started a few decades ago. 

A Psalm of Gratitude

Lord, you’ve heard my prayer. I no longer live in the pit of self-destruction. Although at times I still feel depressed, I no longer live there. You’ve freed me from cycles of deep depression. 

Not in the way I wanted, imagined, and expected. Your wisdom is far greater and your ways are far superior to mine (Isaiah 55:9)

I wanted an instant deliverance. You took me on a journey. A journey that will not end until the day you call me home. Every day you teach me something new.

I wanted quick and simple answers; you gave me understanding. You showed me where my patterns of negative thinking began—deep in my heart. You worked with me to uproot firmly established beliefs–lies! You continue to do so. In that way, my mind is being changed for good–transformed!

I wanted you to do all of the work. You were respectful of my personality and gave me choices. You showed me what it means to be responsible. I learned that my freedom is not a passive gift. It must be received.

Jesus, how kind you are! Your words are like gentle raindrops. How patient and humble you are! You do not push and shove me when I’m slow to understand. How merciful and gracious you are! You forgive me for the same error, over and over again.

You do not allow me to remain in bondage to lies! I am a blessed woman!

I want to tell everyone how amazing you are! My heart overflows with joy. Poems and songs fill my journals. If I wrote millions of them, I would only express a tiny fraction of your love, goodness, wisdom, and power.

I want to share the words you’ve given me. Show me how I can best do this. I want many more people to see your magnificence and worship you.

You’ve been constantly paying attention to me, patiently and persistently loving me–for eighty decades!

Take every word of Scripture I’ve memorized and work within me so that I, like Jesus, “delight to do your will”.

8/31/2018 Jane Ault 

Why I Chose to Memorize Psalms

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

(Psalm 42: 1-2 NIV)

I am a voracious and fast reader. The problem is: Sometimes, I don’t absorb enough of what I’ve read. I don’t think about it. I don’t ask questions.  This summer, it’s helped me to read less and spend more time thinking about what I’ve read. In particular, it’s been helpful to slow down so I can think about the Psalms I’ve been memorizing. Ask questions. Tune in to the voice of the Spirit. Respond to corrections. Receive comfort.

Psalms have been my go-to source of wisdom, encouragement, and comfort for many years. 

In his book, The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard says this about them: “If you bury yourself in Psalms, you emerge knowing God and understanding life. . .  We drink in God and God’s world from them. They provide a vocabulary for living Godward, one inspired by God himself. They show us who God is, and that expands and lifts and directs our minds and hearts”(TDC p. 65).

Beyond, reading, memorizing, and meditating on the psalms, I invite you to take another step this week. Respond to the psalm you’ve thoughtfully and prayerfully read (and possibly memorized) by writing out your personal prayer. 

Psalm 40, verses 1-8, is the one that I’ve chosen to memorize this week. Here it is as written in the English Standard Version:

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man who makes
    the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
    to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, OLord my God,
    your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
    none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
    yet they are more than can be told.

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
    but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
    you have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
    in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will, O my God;
    your law is within my heart.”

 Years ago, I wrote the following prayer based on the first two verses of Psalm 40. 

A Plea for Deliverance

Lord, lift me out of my pit of destruction.
Free me from the cycles of depression I so frequently experience.

Rescue me from a condemning conscience;
It fills me with doubt and despair.

Change my patterns of negative thinking;
I habitually fall into distrust, worry, and fear.

Stir me from the bog of apathy into which I frequently sink.
Shed your light on my pathway and give me firmness in my footsteps. 

The Lord heard my plea for help; so this week, my plan is to memorize Psalm 40: 3-8 and respond to him with a written prayer based on verses 3-8.

What will you challenge yourself to do?

An Unexpected Blessing Due to Memorizing Psalm 19

My husband suggested that I chose a shorter Psalm to memorize this week. Since I haven’t yet completely memorized Ps 19, I agreed with him. 

Even though I was still stumbling through parts of Psalm 19, I remembered the last verse, and that brought me an unexpected blessing.

In the middle of the night, a nightmare woke me up. Instead of panicking I wrote the following prayer, based on words from the Psalm.

You are my Rock and you’re my Redeemer
I will not cling to fears of tomorrow

No nightmare, sickness or terror attack
Can cause me to panic; you have my back

I’ve determined to please you in all that I do
With the help of your Spirit, I’ll follow through

You’re my Redeemer and Sheltering Rock
Of you I will write, of you I will talk.

I love Psalm 15. I’ve read it many times over the years and have always been challenged by it. It describes the kind of integrity and reputation that I desire to possess–the kind of life that pleases God.

I hope that you, too, will be inspired by it.

1Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?

Who may live on your holy mountain?

The one whose walk is blameless,
    who does what is righteous,
    who speaks the truth from their heart;

whose tongue utters no slander,
    who does no wrong to a neighbor,
    and casts no slur on others;

who despises a vile person
    but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
    and does not change their mind;

who lends money to the poor without interest;
    who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

6 Whoever does these things
    will never be shaken.

Continue reading

Motivation for Memorizing Scripture

I’m wondering how those of you who accepted my challenge to memorize Scripture are doing with that task.

It took me longer to memorize Psalm 8 than it did for me to memorize Psalm 121. I’m not sure why. I had already memorized parts of Psalm 8. Maybe that was the problem. I choose to memorize Psalm 8 in a translation that was less familiar to me. The words of the older and more familiar text kept getting entangled in my mind with the words of the new translation.

This problem turned out for my benefit because I had to focus on the meaning of the words I was memorizing. I could not unthinkingly repeat them like a parrot. If we only want to improve our ability to remember, why choose Scripture? We could choose anything.

The Psalm that I picked for this week, gives us numerous reasons to memorize Scripture. I”m thankful that God chose to tell us what he is like through creation through Scripture. 

Dividing Psalm 19 into couplets so that all I need to do is memorize 2 verses every day does not seem as intimidating as looking at the entire psalm.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the sky displays his handiwork.
Day after day it speaks out;
night after night it reveals his greatness.

There is no actual speech or word,
nor is its voice literally heard.
Yet its voice echoes throughout the earth;
its words carry to the distant horizon.
In the sky he has pitched a tent for the sun.

Like a bridegroom it emerges from its chamber;
like a strong man it enjoys running its course.
It emerges from the distant horizon,
and goes from one end of the sky to the other;
nothing can escape its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect
and preserves one’s life.
The rules set down by the Lord are reliable
and impart wisdom to the inexperienced.
The Lord’s precepts are fair
and make one joyful.
The Lord’s commands are pure
and give insight for life.

The commands to fear the Lord  are right
and endure forever.
The judgments given by theLord are trustworthy
and absolutely just.
10 They are of greater value than gold,
than even a great amount of pure gold;
they bring greater delight than honey,
than even the sweetest honey from a honeycomb.

11 Yes, your servant finds moral guidance there;
those who obey them receive a rich reward.
12 Who can know all his errors?
Please do not punish me for sins I am unaware of.

13 Moreover, keep me from committing flagrant sins;
do not allow such sins to control me.
Then I will be blameless,
and innocent of blatant rebellion.
14 May my words and my thoughts
be acceptable in your sight,
Lord, my sheltering rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19 (NET)




Singing Scripture

What a great time I had this week memorizing Psalm 121! One thing that works for me when I memorize something is to sing. So, during my early morning walks this past week, I sang Psalm 121. I did not have it all memorized on day one. Each day I added a few more lines to my song. Sometimes, I recorded my singing on my telephone. If I ever lose my phone and someone finds it, I hope that they listen to the Scripture songs that I’ve recorded.

If you’ve never tried it before, I hope that some of you will start singing the Psalms. After all, that is what they were written for. The word “psalm” means song. It doesn’t matter what our voices sound like. I don’t think that’s important to God. What’s important to him is the condition of our hearts. Let’s just be like children and not worry about what our voices sound like or whether or not we can carry a tune. 

(My husband gave me permission to use him as an example here. He said that he can’t carry a tune, but he can imitate. He imitates whatever singer he stands next to. That works for him most of the time. It’s a bit of a problem when he’s standing next to me and I’m singing a high soprano note. )

This week, I am going to memorize and hopefully come up with a new tune for Psalm 8. I’ve copied it below. I hope that you will join my summer challenge

It’s not too late! If singing helps you to memorize, do it. If it doesn’t interest you, try another technique. Come up with your own creative way of memorizing Scripture and, if you want to, share it!

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8 (NIV)

Summer Plans

I’ve been thinking and praying about my direction for the summer and wondering what to do about my blog posts. I decided that it might be helpful for me to go back and read what I’ve previously written. 

As I reviewed some of the posts that I’ve written in the past couple of years, I discovered this one  and knew that, once again, I needed to heed my own advice. If you are feeling stressed and hurried, today, you might like to check it out.

 I’m planning to visit members of John’s family and my family and don’t want to be stressed and hurried while with them.  In order for this to happen (in addition to practicing the principles in the above-mentioned post), I am choosing to cut back some of my activities.

For example, my husband and I did not plant a large garden. We will purchase more of our veggies from the local farmers who grow wonderful crops and bring them, freshly picked, to the markets. 

An activity which I’ve decided I will return to is Scripture memorization. This practice reduces my stress level. As I shared during the worship service at New Hope Community Church this morning, the words of Scripture that I’ve memorized over the years have literally kept me alive.

In times of deep depression, failure, and disappointment, the Holy Spirit has faithfully brought back to my mind the word of comfort, encouragement, and wisdom that I’ve needed.

These are the words that bring joy to my heart and peace to my soul. These are the words that Jesus lived by. In referring to Scripture he said, “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4 NLT). 

So, my plan is to memorize a portion of Scripture every week. I hope that you will join me. I’ve picked a short Psalm (usually 6-9 verses) for each week. 

Psalm 122 is the one that I’ve picked for this week. Though I’m familiar with and remember certain lines of this beautiful poem, I’ve not memorized it. I chose it because the Holy Spirit reminded me of this line as I was waking up: “the sun shall not strike you by day!”

That was exactly what I needed to hear on this hot morning. I was thinking of staying home from church so that I could stay cool in front of my air conditioner. The Holy Spirit has a sense of humor.

Below is the entire Psalm, as written in the New King James Version. Feel free, of course, to memorize it in another version.

I like that translation because at my age my soul needs a lot of preserving.  (See verses 7and 8.) Instead of the word preserve, other translations use the words protect or keep. The idea is that God is our personal security guard. A great thing to know when we are traveling!

Again, I hope you will join me in memorizing Scripture. I’d love for you to share what God is saying to you through it. Others, also, will be blessed by your words. 

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—

From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.

The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.

Psalm 121




Physical and Spiritual Rest: A Dynamic Combo


I did not write a blog post last week. I felt too tired and stressed. I needed rest. God is patiently teaching me to take care of my body in a way that honors him. Physical rest goes hand-in-hand with spiritual rest. In the last few days, when I lacked sufficient sleep, my anger level rose. My tongue could easily have become a sword of destruction.

Amazingly, during this time, the Holy Spirit gave me songs and poems to build up my faith and to share with others. I also have a patient and loving husband who listens as I struggle to get to the place of faith and rest. 

Does that mean that it’s okay for me to neglect physical rest? No, indeed. That would be presumptuous–doing something I, because of the limits of my body, have no right to do. At times, it’s okay for me to go without sleep in order to perform a task God’s called me to do. He provides grace for that.

Most of the time, God’s plan for my day includes physical rest. When I provide for physical rest, I cooperate with the Holy Spirit, as he works to produce spiritual growth in my life.  When I neglect physical rest, I resist the work of the Holy Spirit. Not a good idea! 

Making every effort to “supplement your faith with virtue,[e]and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love” (2 Peter 1:5-7 ESV), includes making the effort to secure my physical rest.

Neglecting to do so could mean that I will needlessly go through another dark valley. 

How many dark valleys of the soul
Must I go through before I find peace?

How much longer must I experience
Bouts of guilt, fear, shame, and unbelief?

Lord, I want the rest which you promised
To give to your weary sheep

I feel ashamed of my struggles
Fluctuations of faith bring me grief

Fluctuations are unknown to you
Always and forever, you are the same

I will cooperate with your Spirit
My hope is the integrity of your name.

I will continue pursuing you
Adding to my faith, goodness;

Adding to goodness, knowledge;
Adding to knowledge, self-control;

Adding to self-control, perseverance;
Adding to perseverance, godliness;

Adding to godliness, mutual affection;
Adding to mutual affection, love

Lord, whatever the future holds
Whatever pain, fear, or affliction

I know you will never desert me
I will rest in the truth of your affection

1/30/2018 Jane Ault

Why I Don’t Feel Guilty About Oversleeping and Skipping Church


Last Sunday, my husband and I slept late and skipped church. That might not have seemed like a big deal to most people, but it could be a very big deal if you are one of the pastors of a church. Fortunately, John was not scheduled to preach. In fact, he asked to be excused from his usual duties so that we could celebrate our wedding anniversary. 51 years is a big deal.

Surely then, out of gratitude to God for blessing our marriage, shouldn’t we attend church? I could have chosen to feel guilty for skipping church. I considered that option—but not for long.


Instead of binding myself to the restriction of a self-imposed, you-must-never-skip-church law, I chose to live in the freedom of God’s grace.


Does that mean that I think church attendance is unimportant? No. It simply means that I can live in the freedom of grace, as Jesus did. He understood what the purpose of the Sabbath was and is.

Something designed to bring rest for our bodies, refreshment to our souls, and renewal to our spirits. Not something to be used for attaining performance points.


Rest, refreshment, and spiritual renewal come to us when we simply receive God’s grace and live in his presence.

His presence is not limited to the square-foot dimension of any church building. Jesus, the Creator and Sustainer of every universe is present everywhere in it.

As John and I walked among the trees and flowers of the arboretum in Ottawa, we knew that God was with us. 

Our bodies, souls, and spirits were refreshed and renewed. Will we go to church next Sunday? Yes, indeed! We seldom miss a service.


When we worship with like-minded brothers and sisters—having the eyes of our hearts focused on Jesus and desiring his presence—he comes in awesome ways to teach, comfort, strengthen, and heal us.

Why don’t I feel guilty for oversleeping and skipping church? Because I don’t go to church in order to earn brownie points from God. He doesn’t like me better when I go.  I’m free to go or not to go. He respects my choice. Most of the time I chose to attend church. Not because I have to. Because I want to.

I hope that’s the same for you.







How to Feel Sorry Less Often


“If you were really sorry, you would never do that again!” Has someone ever said that to you? Or have you ever said to yourself, if I were really sorry, I would never do that again! In many ways, I’ve vowed that I would not make the same mistake and then stumbled in the same old way. I wish this were not true. 

Last week I volunteered to help a neighbor who is moving pack her boxes. Then, I got busy with other things. My husband and I made a decision that required unexpected time and energy. Consequently, I forgot about the promise I’d made to my neighbor.

My husband also made a promise to our neighbor. When she appeared at my door on Monday morning to receive the help he had promised, he came through with it. I asked her if she needed help with her packing. “No,” she said,” I’ve finished. I only need help to move the larger things. “

I felt sorry that I had not provided the help that I’d earlier promised. I scolded myself for not keeping a commitment that I’d made. And I realized, once again, I’d made a promise and not kept it.

How can I break this habit? How can I change any unhealthy pattern of behavior?
These are some of my choices:

1. A) I can live in denial, pretending there’s no problem, or
    B) I can honestly look at how my behavior pattern affects others, as well as myself.

2. A) I can live in regret, allowing a condemning conscience to beat me up, or
    B) I can humbly confess my failure and accept forgiveness.

3. A) I can demand instant and complete perfection, telling myself I will never do that, again, or
    B) I can recognize that change is a process and find out what that process involves.

4. A)  I can blame my failure on circumstances, the devil or others, or
    B)I can accept responsibility for making changes in my life and learn what the causes are.

5. A) I can place total reliance on my ability to change, or
    B) I can admit that I need the help of a power higher than myself and rely on my Creator.

6. A) I can struggle with the same old problem year after year, or
    B) I can secure accountability that will help me address the issues that lie behind my destructive habit, give me encouragement, and rejoice with me over victories I gain. 

7. A) I can focus so much on my performance (am I making the right choices?) that I’m consumed with worry, or
    B) I can focus primarily on who God is, trust in his power to transform me and rest in his grace.  

In regard to choice number 7, I  quit worrying about my performance when my neighbor said, “you are the best neighbor I’ve ever had.” 

Sometimes, the “A” choices that I’ve listed attract me. They’re the default mode of operation of the sin-nature. They feel so right. Why would I want to make the more difficult and less attractive “B” choices?

This is my motivation: “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (Hebrews 4:11 NLT).

I want more of the peace that comes from right living. I want to feel sorry less often. My intention this week is to make more “B” choices than “A” choices. I hope that you will join me. 

Questions for reflection:

1. Which “B” choice is most challenging for you?

2. Which “A” choice do you make most often?

3. What other “A” and “B” choices do you have to suggest?

Enjoying Lilac Blossoms and Letting Them Go

 At the edge of my driveway stands a row of lilac bushes. I’ve been watching the blossoms develop, waiting for the day when I could take a good photo. Finally, the day arrived. The blossoms were almost in full bloom and the sky was overcast—perfect for taking a picture. I grabbed my camera and headed out the door.  I was not pleased with the first few photos that I took.  This is one of them: 

New lilac blossoms are barely visible. They’re hidden behind dead branches and dried stems of previous year’s blossoms.

I put down my camera, took my branch cutter off its hook in the garage and sniped off last year’s dried stems and dead branches. Then, I took a few more photos. This is one that I like:

The dead branch has been cut off and the beautiful new blossom is visible.

Last year, one of my friends told me that if I wanted to have lots of lilac blossoms every year, I must cut off the stems of each year’s blossoms as soon as they quit blooming. Well, I didn’t bother doing it. I don’t know why I would want to hang on to an old, dead branch. It’s never going to bloom again. Still, I hated to snip it off.

I thought about my life. What “branch” that once produced fragrant and beautiful flowers in my life is now unneeded, dead, and must be trimmed off?  As I hesitate pruning my lilac bushes, so I reluctantly prune the unneeded “branches” in my life.

Each season, God has new gifts of grace. In order to make room for them, I need let go of the old, familiar, comfortable things. Maybe I don’t recognize them as dead branches. I remember the joy that they brought me and try to revive or resurrect what I was given in the past. What happens if I don’t cut off the dead branches? They distract me from seeing the new growth that God wants to produce in my life.

Jesus knows we are reluctant to give up the old. He said,”No one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say” (Luke 5:39 NLT).

Yet, I can’t have any passion for the new thing that God wants to develop in my life unless I give up that old thing.  

Questions for your reflection  

What new (blossom) dream or vision has God given to me?

What once beautiful but now unneeded or dead branch must I prune from my life in order to pursue it?

What choice will I make? Keep the dead branch or cut it off?


Chicken Broth and Chocolate-covered Mints ???


Chicken broth and chocolate-covered mints. Doesn’t sound like a good combination.  Why would I even think of it? I did not think of it until one morning this week when I found it in the bottom of a mug.

Wanting a mid-morning snack, I pulled a large coffee mug from the cupboard and poured into it the contents of a pouch of concentrated chicken broth. I was about to add water to the mug; thankfully, before I did so, I glanced into it. To my surprise, I saw six chocolate-covered mints swimming in a pool of chicken broth concentrate.

I assumed that my husband, who usually makes a mug of hot chocolate in the morning, had forgotten what he started to do. He put the chocolate-covered mints in his mug and absent-mindedly placed the mug back into the cupboard. Or maybe earlier in the day, I, myself, had put the mug into the cupboard, assuming that it was empty.

I love chocolate-covered mints. I also love chicken broth. But I was not risky enough to try chocolate-covered mints mixed with chicken broth. So, I picked out the mints, rinsed them off in cold water and set them on a paper towel to dry. Maybe they would still be good. What can I learn from this I wondered?

Hmm. What happens when we don’t look into our “cup”? The one we’ve been given in life. Do we wrongly assume that our cup is empty? Might there be unseen sweet treasures in the bottom of it? Perhaps some unfinished project that we’d enjoy completing, an unanswered letter or a photo that stirs up a happy memory. Maybe some good desire that we’ve set aside and quit pursuing.

Could we take these sweet things out of the bottom of our cup and give them some attention? Like those chocolate-covered mints in the bottom of my mug, that desire, goal, project, or memory might have the potential for placing joy in our lives. And bringing joy to others.

What do we fill our cup with?  Chicken broth? Satisfying work. Chocolate-covered mints? Rewarding play. Always one? Never the other? Maybe we unsuccessfully try to work and play at the same time. I enjoy my work but trying to play at the same time does not prove very satisfying to me. On the other hand, if I never take time for play (my tendency), I become drained by my work.

Chicken broth and chocolate-covered mints. What’s the balance? Although the two don’t mix well, separate portions of each can fill our cup with satisfaction and joy.


The”D” Word We Prefer to Deny

During my vacation, along with walking in the California sunshine, taking photos of flowers, and relaxing with my children and grandchildren, I read several books. One of them was Thoughtful Dementia Care: Understanding the Dementia Experience by Jennifer Ghent-Fuller.

You might be wondering why I would read such a book while on vacation. Wasn’t it depressing? Who wants to think about dementia at any time? Not many of us.  It’s not my favorite topic of conversation. Probably not yours, either. But I hope you will keep on reading.

I chose to read this book not because I am greatly worried about my mental decline (although I do have some short-term memory loss) but because I want to understand the challenges that some of my friends and family members are going through. I want to understand the process of dementia so that I can be helpful to them.

Jennifer Ghent-Fuller points out that most books about dementia are written with the family and caregivers viewpoint in mind. That’s why she wrote hers differently. It’s written from the viewpoint of those who are experiencing dementia–people she taught, supported and cared for during 25 years of her life as a nurse.                 

This book was difficult to read. I could not read it straight through. As I began to see dementia through the eyes of those who have it, tears came to my eyes. I had to stop reading for a few hours. Why? Because I discovered that people with dementia are very emotionally sensitive.  I have not understood that fact and lacked compassion.

As Jennifer points out, understanding their experience and viewpoint can help us see beyond their behavior problems, which might be our primary focus, and act with patience and kindness instead of anger and irritation.

I’ve tended to get impatient with them, as well as with myself when I forget something.   I’m changing my attitude. I want it to match God’s attitude. He does not devalue those with a loss of brain power. From his point of view, who among us is not in some way lacking? 

We might be children learning skills or we might be seniors losing skills. Either way, God loves us. We are spiritual beings not just physical bodies. Our spirits can connect with his Spirit even when our minds cannot.

God, give me a heart that beats like yours
When friends of mine stumble in this course–

Can’t find the pathway to their door,
Can’t reason as well as they could before.

Give me patience while they are losing some skills.
May I gently help them wipe up their spills—

May I never berate them or call them cruel names;
Help me speak with kindness, remembering my frame.

Help me gladly supply what they lack—
Explain by example, never attack;

Bear with their ignorance, their slowness, their fear;
Help me act wisely and do it with cheer.

Give me grace to stay, as their minds fade away,
For I might walk in those shadows, someday.

Because my spirit is alive . . .


During the last part of April, John and I spent some time with family members in the California sunshine. We brought back many good memories and photos. The above photo is one of many that I took during an evening walk through the Sacramento Capital Rose Garden. The roses were in full bloom. I wish I could have included the fragrance in my photo. 

According to rose growers, in order to thrive roses need lots of sunshine, at least six hours a day. If I were a rose, I would not do very well during April in the north country!  Thankfully, even in cloudy, rainy, and windy days, I can thrive. How? By replenishing my inner self, my spirit, in the overflowing warmth of Jesus’ love. 

That’s what I was reminded of when I opened my Bible this morning and read these words of Jesus: “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:9-11 NLT).

How is your spirit, today?  Thriving or wilting? Full of joy or weighed down with the cares of the day? l hope that you will spend some time soaking up Jesus’ love. Then, no matter what your circumstances, you will thrive like a rose.

Because my spirit is alive
In the midst of pain, I can thrive.

Thriving is more than surviving;
It’s resting instead of striving.

Resting in the fact I am loved;
Greatly loved by the Father above,

Father of Lights, giver of life,
Who protects my soul day and night

From the Evil One’s devices.
I have learned God’s ways are wisest,

Though they include some suffering.
Despite the suffering, I can sing.

Because I see the joy ahead
And by the Spirit, I am led

Into places that I’d never go.
It’s in those places that I grow

Stronger, braver, wiser, kinder.
My lack serves as a reminder

That I have something more to learn;
So, with humility, not scorn

I’ll receive a kind correction.
And if it’s not gently given

Be willing, still, to learn a lesson–
Make a needed thought-revision,

With gratitude, not resentment.
That’s the pathway to contentment.

If I do these things, I’ll thrive
My spirit will be kept alive.

5/3/2018 Jane Ault

A Psalm of Hope and Joy


 I love the Book of Psalms! Within its pages, every life situation is encountered and every human emotion is expressed. All of the struggles and all of the victories of life are recorded.  Through reading it, I find encouragement, insight, and wisdom.  the Holy Spirit often inspires me to write a psalm of my own. 

I hope that you will enjoy it and, then, consider writing a psalm of your own. Don’t think that your poem must be structured like mine, with every two-lines ending in rhyming words. I just do that naturally. Your poem doesn’t have to be a long one. There are very short and very long psalms in the Bible. Everyone’s psalm, like everyone’s prayer, is unique to the person who writes or speaks it.

A psalm is simply an expression of our heart-song to God. Sometimes it’s joyful and sometimes it’s not. So, whatever is in your heart, I pray that, along with reading mine, you will read one of the 150 psalms in the Bible and respond by writing one of your own. If you want to share it, that would be lovely!                                                             

A Psalm of Hope and Joy

I bless you for the morning light
For protection through the night

For sweet assurance you are here
And knowledge you won’t disappear

Because of this, my spirit sings
Like a bird, I lift my wings

And fly above this earthly pain
From sin’s tug, I will abstain

Jesus, you’re so beautiful
You are precious to my soul

I bless you for your saving grace
What joy ‘twill be to see your face

Walk with me throughout this day
And fill this body, made of clay,

With power that I may fulfill
Your plan for me, do all things well

I bless you for the morning light
For protection through the night

For sweet assurance you are here
And knowledge you won’t disappear

Because of this, I have hope
Because of this, I can cope

With difficulties of this day
Annoyances that come my way

Jesus, you are wise and good
Oh, that the whole world understood

The meaning of your life and death
Your love for all you’ve given breath

Walk with me, Lord, on the street
Use my mouth, my hands, my feet

Through this body that I own
May your truth and grace be known

Jane Ault 2/8/2018

A Good Friday Meditation



He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds,
crushed because of our sins;
he endured punishment that made us well;
because of his wounds we have been healed. (Isaiah 53: 5 NET)


Disfigured and ugly because of our sin,
He bore hell’s full rage, as we lashed out at him.

Jesus laid down his rights, as Creator and King—
Because he so loved us, he said not a thing.

Bleeding and mangled, just took up the cross,
While loudly we mocked him; it should have been us.

But we in rebellion and arrogant pride
Spit in his face–and our guilt we denied.

Our sin was not simply a slip or mistake,
We made it a habit to lie and to hate.

We earned all the judgment of death and of hell.
Yet, Jesus was wounded so we could get well.

Yes, Jesus was wounded; he stood in our place
And felt the rejection when God’s turned his face.

My mind cannot fathom such love and such grace.
He cleansed me from shame and my guilt he erased.

What can I offer him? What can I give?
He suffered in agony that I might live

Devotion and gratitude–all that I am.
Jesus is worthy—the Glorified Lamb.

Jane Ault 3/25/2018

What Am I Chasing After?


Recently, a freak accident killed the 33-year-old son of some friends of ours. It happened on an ordinary workday. He did nothing unusual. I felt not only grieved but shocked. This event made me seriously think about how I am using my time.

Being a senior citizen, it’s clear to me that the number of years I have left on this earth is less than the number of years I’ve already spent. Yet, at what age, can we confidently assume that we will not be the victim of a freak accident or the flu virus or a terrorist’s bullet?

How crucial, then, that we think about our values and our direction in life! What gives us the most joy? Lasting joy!  In what ways do we, or can we, intentionally design the minutes and hours of our day to pursue that joy?

Jesus’ apostle Paul clearly knew what would bring him ultimate and lasting joy, and he pursued it with all his heart, mind, and strength.  For him, the value of knowing Jesus Christ surpassed everything else in life. He wasn’t talking about the intellectual knowledge of Jesus–historical facts, although he considered them important; he was talking the kind of relationship with him that is secured by faith. That was what he chased after. (Philippians 3:7-10) 

As a follower of Jesus, I asked myself the following questions. Perhaps you might consider them.

What am I chasing after?

What am I chasing after?
What am I running toward?
Is it something I can capture?
Will it bring me a reward?

Is this prize worth pursuing?
Is it substance or wind?
Is it a venture God will bless?
Will I want it in the end?

What is the risk I’m taking?
Have I counted the cost?
Am I doing what I need to
So my days and years aren’t lost?

What will make me a winner?
Where must I never go?
By what things am I distracted?
To which friends must I say “No”?

Can I succeed by myself?
Or do I need support?
Am I willing to secure it?
To whom will I report?

In making my decisions,
Do I engage my mind?
Or go with whatever impulse
Delights me at the time?

When time for me is over—
This body’s laid to rest—
With what words will I be greeted?
Will my faith have passed the test?

What am I chasing after?
What does my soul crave for?
The righteousness of Jesus Christ—
This alone; nothing more!


Like March, I Can’t Make Up My Mind

March is typically thought of as a month of transition from winter to spring. So far, there’s not been much evidence of spring. The occurrence of three snowstorms, with one so quickly following the other, has caused much distress in this country. I long for sunshine and warmer temperatures. I wish like in the movie “Frozen” that spring would instantly and magically appear. I wish that this same kind of instant transformation would take place in my transition from an imperfect-performing follower of Jesus to a perfect-everyday-in-every-way saint.

What I wanted and hoped for, years ago when I committed myself to a relationship with Christ, was instant perfection and a problem-free life. I thought that these would be automatic benefits which would be granted to me without any effort on my part. These are not the promises that Jesus made.

He said,” In this world, you will have trouble”; his next words were “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). He also says to us in the words of his follower Paul, “work out your own salvation” (Philippians 2:12 ESV).  We do this through what I call the “dynamic dance of choosing grace.” 

As I said in Emotional Freedom: The Choices We Must Make, this dance with Jesus “has two basic steps–grace and responsibility. Grace is God’s step of love toward me. Responsibility is my step of love toward him”. 

 Jesus is not a magician. He does not mysteriously and instantly transform his followers from foul-smelling skunks or fearful, hiding, turtles into loving and courageous creatures. Character transformation does not occur in a straight, steady, upward line of progress. It’s marked with ups and downs, yet who I am today is significantly different than who I was yesterday. 

Like the month of March, I’m still in transition and my performance varies from day to day. I believe that God will keep his promise to complete the work of transformation that he initiated. (Philippians 1:6) Therefore, I live in confidence not shame.

Like March, I can’t make up my mind
Some days I’m cold; some days I’m warm
Fluctuating temperatures
Eventually, produce a storm

In this season of transition
Sometimes I laugh; sometimes I cry
I want to move into the future
It’s tough to tell the past goodbye

Although winter means restriction
Familiarity feels safe
In the spring of growth and freedom
Will I know how to navigate?

Like March, my days are limited
Someday, the storms I face will cease
So, I will heartily pursue
Ways that advance both love and peace

I will uncover roots of fear
And with God’s help detach my mind
From the constraints which block my joy
Through truth and knowledge, I will find

Ways to manage anger and pain
So they do not control my frame
Strengthened by grace and acceptance
I am no longer owned by shame

Jane Ault 3/8/2018

Inspired by Billy Graham’s Scripture-reading Habit

“I, Wisdom, live together with good judgment.
    I know where to discover knowledge and discernment.”

(Proverbs 8: 12 NLT)

The recent death of Reverend Billy Graham, who became known as “America’s pastor”, brought back special memories to me. While a teenager, I attended one of his early crusades in Minneapolis, MN. I choose Northwestern College,  a school which he founded, for my first year of study beyond high school. Years later, my husband and I heard him speak at a conference for Christian leaders in Boston. 

The thing that most impressed me about Billy Graham was the quality and depth of his character.  He displayed integrity, wisdom, and compassion. He practiced what he preached. He was truly honest and, yet, deeply humble. I believe he well represented the Christ whom he recommended. 

Billy Graham’s handbook for life was the Bible. I heard that he read the Old Testament books of Proverbs and Psalms every month. Proverbs, a book of wisdom, contains 31 chapters, so he would need to have read one chapter every day. Psalms, a bo0k of song lyrics and prayers,  contains 150 chapters so he would need to have read 3 chapters every day. I’m sure that he, also, read other parts of the Bible on a regular basis.

Although I’ve read the Bible through more than once, in recent years, I’ve chosen to read shorter or favorite parts of it. Inspired by Billy Graham’s practice, I thought about reading both Proverbs and Psalms during the month of March. But reading both of these books in one month would not be a realistic goal for me, so I decided to limit myself to one of them.  On March 1, I began reading the book of Proverbs. 

I’m freshly motivated to diligently practice the principles of wisdom that I’m reading about. One principle is prudence. Now, prudence (not to be confused with the word “prude”) is not a word that we commonly use, today.

These are dictionary definitions of prudence:  1) careful good judgment that allows someone to avoid danger and risks. 2) caution with regard to practical matters; discretion.  The opposite of prudence is naive. This is a dictionary definition of naive: having or showing a lack of judgment, knowledge, and experience.

I think that a poem might offer an interesting, as well as an informative definition and comparison of these two concepts. I just happen to have one.

Prudence and naivety were walking down the road.
After a while, they met a stranger who offered them some food.

Naivety just swallowed it; she assumed all things were good.
But prudence first examined it; she wisely understood

Appearance can deceive us–unless we’re very shrewd.
Things which, at first, taste sweet might turn sour when they’re chewed.

(p. 101 in Heart Connections: Finding Joy through Openness with God, by Jane Ault)

Questions for reflection

  • How can caring too much about our appearance affect our integrity?
  • How can caring too little about our appearance be unwise?
  • Do prudent people care at all about their appearance? Why or why not?



A Poetic Snapshot of Simplicity

In this season of life, there are days when I feel frustrated about my limitations. I want to have as much energy as I did when I was in my 30’s and 40’s. Living in simplicity and being content is my desire.  According to  Jesus’ follower, Paul, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6 ESV). 

Godliness, according to Richard Swenson, author of CONTENTMENT: The Secret to a Lasting Calm is “an attitude whereby what we want is to please God”. Contentment is an inward quality of my heart and simplicity is the outward lifestyle I am able to develop because of that contentment. 

The following poem describes the kind of simplicity and contentment I desire to enjoy. On some days, it’s a reality. 

In God’s presence, find delight
Receive his blessings; live my life

Make a house into a home
Plant a rose and write a poem

Invite a friend to come for tea
Listen as she shares with me

Laugh and cry as we connect
Treat each other with respect

Don’t solve a problem that’s not mine
Assure my sister she’ll do fine

Practice daily what I’ve learned
Only speak when it’s my turn

Remember that I’m God’s employ
Do what brings us mutual joy

Write a letter or a note
Include a verse that brings some hope

Write a chapter in a book
Now and then, take a look

At the chipmunk on the deck
Watch the Cardinals as they peck

On the seeds that I’ve thrown out
Put away my fear and doubt

Trust the One who made the birds
Believe my prayers have been heard

All day long, compose a song
Remind myself that I belong

Don’t go back to where I’ve been
And revisit pain again

Believe that I have done enough
Don’t get entangled in more stuff

Go to bed and be content
About how my time was spent

Whatever happens in the night
Know that I am in God’s sight

Keep looking for that happy day
When He will wipe all tears away

When every battle has been won
And my work on earth is done

Delight, for eternity,
In God’s profound simplicity

2/21/2018 Jane Ault


Busy but Not Hurried


The six-week study of John Ortberg’s book, Soul Keeping, which I’ve been participating in with a small group of like-minded people has ended. The insights I gained and inspiration I received while doing this study were profound. With renewed determination and fresh energy, I’m pursuing God’s call to love him with my entire heart, mind, and strength.

I’m especially thankful to Beverly Ewart and Courtney Kissam who prepared for and led this group, helping us to more clearly understand what it means to have a healthy soul. 

The following poem/song, “Busy but Not Hurried”,  describes the kind of soul I desire to possess. “Hurried” refers to anxiety and worry located in our inner life. “Busy” refers to activities in our outer life. We can be very busy, yet not hurried. 

Busy but Not Hurried


Busy, but not hurried
Means I am not worried
Means that I am living
In the presence of my King

Busy, but not hurried
Means I am not worried
Means that I am singing
And giving thanks for everything


Busy, but not hurried
Means I am not worried
Means that I’ve stopped thinking
About what other folks might do

Busy but not hurried
Means I am not worried
Means that I am doing
Works my Father called me to


Busy but not hurried
Means I am not worried
Means that I am moving
In rhythm with the Spirit

Busy but not hurried
Means I am not worried
Means that I’m avoiding
Things that have no merit


Busy but not hurried
Means I am not worried
Means that I’m preparing
For the day when he returns

Busy but not hurried
Means I am not worried
Means that I’m not working
For the money I could earn


Busy but not hurried
Means I am not worried
Means that I’m refusing
Loads not meant for me

Busy but not hurried
Means I am not worried
Means that I’m accepting
My responsibility


Busy but not hurried
Means I am not worried
Means when I’m not sleeping
I still have inner peace

Busy but not hurried
Means I am not worried
Means when I am hurting
God’s comfort will increase


Busy but not hurried
Means I am not worried
Means that I’m receiving
God’s acceptance of me

Busy but not hurried
Means I am not worried
Means that I’m still sharing
My songs and poetry


Busy but not hurried
Means I am not worried
Means when life is shifting
I know that God’s not distant

Busy but not hurried
Means I am not worried
Means my soul’s not drifting
‘Cause God is all sufficient 

2/19/2018 Jane Ault

Finding Time To Be Loved By Jesus


When I was a college student, someone gave me a little booklet with the title, Quiet Time. Quiet time meant having quality time with Jesus–telling him about my struggles, asking him my questions, learning what his thoughts were, and most of all receiving his love. 

In order to do this, it was necessary to find a place where I could be alone, and I needed to put aside anything that distracted me. Then, I could focus on learning what Jesus had to say to me through Scripture and respond to him through prayer. 

When I was single and going to college, it was fairly easy for me to get up early and have an extended quality time with Jesus. I developed a daily habit of reading Scripture, journaling and praying.

After I got married and had children, it was NOT easy for me to continue that habit. They always seemed to wake up before I did. As they got older and slept longer, it still wasn’t possible for me to stick to my early morning habit all of the time. I experienced days of depression when my head felt too foggy in the morning to concentrate. In that condition, it was a struggle to read  Scripture. 

For years, I felt guilty if I did not have my early morning quiet time. I thought my whole day was ruined. One day, God reminded me that there’s no law stating: you must have a “Quiet time” first thing in the morning. It’s not one of the ten commandments.  It was a law which I made for myself.

I often compared myself with well known Christian women of the past or present, who seemed to be able to do this under circumstances more difficult than mine. Such comparisons were unhelpful. They filled my heart with unnecessary guilt.

I discovered that Jesus welcomes me with joy whenever I come to him. Although time management is a helpful skill (and I need to grow in it),  he is more concerned about my heart desire than my capacity for keeping track of time. 

In this stage of my life, I can, again, get up early and enjoy quality time with Jesus.  But my desire is much bigger than that. It’s to experience his love, grow strong in it, and let it flow through me throughout the day and night.

I’ll think about God when I awake,
Give thanks for mercies of the night,
Listen for his word to me,
Rise up and follow him.

Throughout day, I’ll search for time
Where we can talk, just he and I;
In my day I’ll find a place
For Jesus, my best friend.

I’ll tell him all that’s on my heart,
Then search in Scripture for his thought;
With his Word, I will agree.
I know he cares for me.

I’ll think about God and who He is,
Think about God and what He did,
Think about God all day long,
Think about God and live.

(Poem reprinted from Heart Connections: Finding Joy Through Openness with God by Jane Ault)


Finding a Personal Tempo of Joy and Productivity


When I was younger, one of my dreams was to run a marathon. That dream never materialized because I did nothing to prepare myself for running. Marathon running was not a heart desire. It was wishful thinking. Wishful thinking works like this: (1) I close my eyes and in my imagination see a picture of what I want. (2) I open my eyes and pouf! there it is!  No effort on my part is needed to make this happen. 

While I admire runners and regret that I had not chosen to be more physically active when I was younger,  my preferred tempo is walking. I am at peace with my decision to walk rather than run because I believe it’s the most beneficial exercise for me in this stage of my life.

I’ve discovered that walking is the tempo that brings me joy and makes me most productive. Now, I’m  using the word “walk” as a metaphor for the tempo which best facilitates my growth toward emotional and spiritual maturity. What makes walking so beneficial? It requires me to slow down and pay attention to my soul. My soul, according to John Ortberg author of Soul Keeping, is that invisible part of me that is designed for and longs to connect with God. 

I’ve been reading Ortberg’s book and participating in a group study of it. He emphasizes the importance of living an unhurried life. “Hurry”, he points out is a quality of our inward life. To be hurried is to live in a climate of inward stress. To be unhurried is to live in a climate of inward rest.    

An unhurried life is the kind of thing that John Greenleaf Whittier longs and prays for in these lines from his poem The Brewing of Soma, which is quoted in the hymn “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”. 

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace

I love this word picture of peace and beauty–the result of living an “ordered life”. God has a prize for each one of us at the end of life’s “race” but we can only attain it if we “walk” according to the tempo designed for us.

We can never discover our best tempo by comparing ourselves with other runners (or walkers) but only by listening to the voice of the Spirit. He, our patient coach, remains with us throughout our earthly journey, assuring us of ultimate victory. Still, we must choose to follow his instructions.

Questions for your reflection:

Describe the condition of your inner life?

If you feel hurried and stressed, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what step(s) you could take to find rest.

In your stage of life, do you need to move at a slower tempo or a faster tempo?

Ask Jesus to show you what it means for you to  “run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV).

This poem is my prayer.

Jesus, show me the tempo that I must run
To win the prize when the race is done;

Release my soul from self-centered ambition;
Teach me how to slow down and listen

With an intention to obey your command—
To follow through with what I have planned.

1/23/18 Jane Ault


Comfort for Imperfect Performers



My husband’s favorite snack mix is a mixture of Corn Chex, Rice Chex, and raisins, which he mixes with olive oil and peanut butter and then bakes in the oven. When he takes it out of the oven, it smells so good. I could eat quite a lot of it. He’s glad to share it with me, but sometimes I eat more than my share. 

This morning, I noticed that the snack mix was almost gone, so I put what remained of it in a cup, walked downstairs, sat in the rocker beside my husband, and said,”I’m eating the last of your snack mix.” (Pause) “But that’s okay because I didn’t eat much of the last batch; you ate most of it.”

“There, you justified yourself,” he said. We both laughed.

What does it mean to justify ourselves? It means that we try to cover up an action that we feel guilty about by making a legitimate (good-sounding) “reason” for our action. 

Did I need to prove to my husband that it was okay for me to finish off the snack mix? Not really. He’s very generous and willing to share. There must have been some doubt in my mind about my motives.

Although I’ve been a follower of Jesus for many years, I still tend to struggle with doubt. Not doubt about who Jesus is and what he did for me by his death and resurrection. Just doubt about me. Doubt about my performance as his follower. I want to be the “perfect” follower. 

When I feel impatient with my progress toward perfection, I might silently scold myself with these kinds of comments:

“By now, I should have learned that!”
“God must be disappointed in me.”

What does this self-accusation do for me? Nothing good!  It stirs up despair in my soul, it makes my body feel tense, and it causes me to become self-centered–so preoccupied with my performance that I can’t see the needs of those around me. 

One night, I was restless and could not sleep. These words of Scripture popped up in my mind: “It is God who justifies.” They were the comforting words given to followers of Jesus in the 8th chapter of Romans. To be justified means to be declared innocent and made acceptable.

God’s message to me was that I needed to stop worrying about my “performance” and put my confidence in his performance. Perfection is his work. The following Scripture verse states that so beautifully!

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.  All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen. (Jude 24 and 25 NLT)

Suggested Activity: Reflect on the above Scripture and the following poem. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Then, write your thoughts in a journal entry. 

Jesus, thank you for this day
Holy Spirit, help me stay

On the pathway you mark out
Shield my soul from fear and doubt

In your love, I will remain
By your power, I’ll refrain

From doing what in the past
Kept my soul from peace and rest

Quickly, show me when my mind
Receives a lie—any kind

Help me reject and replace
Deception’s voice with your grace—

And love-filled Truth! Patiently
You shepherd me—faithfully,

You’ll persist until that day
When before you I display

The perfect work you have done—
Most Holy God, Glorious One!

1/29/18 Jane Ault

The Mirror of Truth


I haven’t thrown away my hand mirror. It’s beautiful antique given to me by a friend, but I’m spending less time looking at my face than I used to do. At first, it was because I did not want to see the wrinkles there.  I’m not uptight about them, anymore.  I’ve accepted them as a normal part of aging. Hopefully, smile wrinkles outnumber worry lines.

More importantly, I finally understand the truth that “skin-beauty” is not nearly as important as what I call “heart-beauty”.  God sees beyond the condition of my face to the condition of my heart. I’ve learned that an unhappy, angry, or worried heart cannot be hidden behind beautiful skin. Whether I like it or not, the expression on my face reflects the condition of my heart.

God’s mirror of truth is Scripture. I love Scripture. When I look in this mirror the Holy Spirit shows me exactly what I am like. He shows me the wrinkles and blemishes in my heart—things such as worry-lines, anger-pimples, and ugly-acne–caused by my reaction to hurt. Sometimes it’s painful to see the truth about myself; I feel ashamed and want to hide.

I don’t hide because the mirror of Truth is held in the hand of a Loving Savior. Jesus does not condemn me. He simply wants to give me the kind of loving, generous, and good heart that he has. When I receive his words of truth, he heals the hurts in my heart and cleanses it from all ugliness.

Why do I spend more time in front of God’s mirror than I do my bathroom mirror? It’s so much more rewarding!

Suggested Activity

Reflect on the following Scripture and poem. Invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Then, write out your thoughts in the form of a prayer. Share it with a friend, if you want to do so.

Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. (Psalm 19:12)
Search me, O God, and know my heart. (Psalm 139:23a)

Just as I am
I come to you, Lord.

I don’t understand the confusion within.
(Of what am I guilty? How have I sinned?)

Search my heart
Not, in a condemning
Introspective way, as I have done.

I’ve taken too many painful trips into the past,
Discovering only despair;

With the power and sweetness of your Grace,
Correct my distorted vision.

Cut my attachment to falsehood.
Bond my soul with truth.

1/23/2018 Jane Ault

Cooperating with the Holy Spirit for Personal Transformation


I grew up in a traditional church where every Sunday at the end of the service, I joined the rest of the congregation in singing, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”. Yet, I had no idea of who the Holy Ghost (another name for the Holy Spirit) was. He seemed, indeed, like a ghost, hiding somewhere in the church. In some mysterious way he was related to God, but  I did not think of the Holy Spirit as my personal teacher.

However, in the Gospel of John, Jesus said that that is exactly who the Spirit is for those who follow him. These are his words: “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name . . . will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26) 

Over the years, I’ve gradually learned to recognize the Holy Spirit’s voice, and I’ve discovered that he is an amazing teacher, wonderful friend, and ever-present helper. It is impossible for us to develop the character of Christ without his assistance. 

With his x-ray vision, he sees the abscess of unhealthy thoughts and destructive behaviors that we hide from ourselves and others. A true friend, he loves us enough to speak the truth even when it’s painful for us to hear it.  A compassionate physician, he offers help but does not overpower us and force us to comply with his directions. A wise counselor, he does not do for us what we can do for ourselves, but he gives us the power to do impossible things. 

In my book, Emotional Freedom: The Choices We Must Make, I describe cooperation with the Holy Spirit as a dance and I describe it in this way:

The concept of dancing with God delights me. I call this dance with Jesus “Choosing Grace.” It has two basic steps—grace and responsibility. Grace is God’s step of love toward me. Responsibility is my step of love toward God. Jesus said, “If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love” (John 15:10 MSG). 

Choosing grace is about dancing in such a close relationship with Jesus that his nature becomes a part of us, motivating our decisions and empowering our behavioral changes. Here is a clear Biblical statement describing the interaction between grace and responsibility: “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12–13 NIV).

My poem, today, is a tribute to the Holy Spirit and an expression of gratitude to Jesus for this wonderful gift.

The Holy Spirit is your gift
He helps me so I do not drift

From the pathway you’ve laid out
Into lanes of fear and doubt

He tells me things I do not know
And he’s patient when I’m slow

Allowing me to try once more—
When my performance has been poor

Never does he leave my side
From his eyes, I cannot hide

For this, I’m thankful everyday—
Here I laugh and here I play

Songs of joy and hymns of praise
Reflecting on your splendid ways

Jesus, you are purest Light
In your presence, I delight

Of your goodness, let me tell
In every virtue, you excel

Beyond measure is your grace
How I long to see your face

Lord, in my remaining days
May what I do reflect your ways

May who I am resemble you
Holy Spirit, keep me true

1/12/2018 Jane Ault

Questions for Reflection

  1. In your “dance of choosing grace”, which step are you stronger in? receiving grace or accepting responsibility
  2. If you have difficulty receiving grace, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what the barriers might be.
  3. If you have difficulty accepting responsibility, ask the Holy Spirit to show you who he might have in mind to help you. 



What is God Calling You to Create in 2018?


“I’m not creative like you are; I could never write a poem.” 

When someone says something like that to me, I feel very sad. Not because I expect everyone to love writing poetry or to have the ability to do so, but because of what that statement implies.

At the very least, it implies these two things: 1) creativity is a genetic trait, which a few people inherit and most do not. 2) In order for me to be creative, I must be like some “recognized” creative personality and mimic what that person does. God makes no clones.

These are self-damaging and God-dishonoring lies. They keep us from developing the creative gift that each one of us has been given. And they keep us from connecting with the supportive people we need in our lives in order to receive affirmation, instruction, and not become discouraged. 

I’m immensely grateful for the teachers, counselors, mentors, and friends that God has given me over the years. Without them, I would never have written much. Without them, I would not have had the courage to publish anything. Without them, I would have thrown out valuable manuscripts. 

Without their help, I would not have recognized my own creative gift or even believed that I had one.  I hope that this year you will believe that you are a creative person and that you will develop your creativity for your own enjoyment, for the blessing of others, and for the glory of God. 

As usual, I can best say these things through the words of a poem. The word “poem” is a metaphor for who you are–a magnificent creation of God.

God took a simple speck of dust
And with his breath, fashioned us.
With joy, he viewed his finished task—
created beauty, pure, unmasked.

Though we’ve fallen from that place
God forms anew, with saving grace.
In hope, our wounded spirits rise
as he with faith anoints our eyes.

Oh, hallelujah, praise the Lamb
God’s happy poem of love, I am.
He gives us each a special name.
We are alike, yet not the same.

Each one of us is one of His.
May we know unhindered bliss,
God’s fellowship throughout our days,
His holiness, in all our ways.

He stamped his image on YOUR soul.
May you reach his chosen goal
that when before His throne you stand
with joy, you’ll touch His pierced hand.

And hear him say, “My child, well done!”
“You look exactly like my Son.”
“I like your work, your finished “poem”.
“Come in my child, welcome home.”

Questions for your reflection:
1) What is your creative gift?
2) In what way(s)have you developed it?
3) What is God calling you create this year?
4) Who are the people that you will look to for affirmation, support, and accountability?

How to Not “Lose Heart”

My husband and I have back problems, and it’s been a challenge to find a bed in which we can comfortably sleep. For several months, we’ve been playing “musical beds”–similar to the game of musical chairs.  Finally, I think we’ve come up with the solution that will enable both of us to sleep with relative comfort.

We also are renewing our commitment to walk and to do the exercises we must do to strengthen our bodies. Maintaining physical fitness not only benefits us but also honors God. Nevertheless, the reality is that our physical bodies are “wearing away” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

This could cause us to become discouraged–lose heart. But we need not do so, for at the same time “our inner person is being renewed”  . . . This is our focus: “we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4: 17-18).

Focusing on the unseen but lasting treasures of God’s kingdom rather than the temporary displeasures of aging motivates us to continue doing the work that God has called us to do. It’s making a difference in how we spend our retirement years, as reflected in the following poem.

When the beauty of youth has diminished
And the strength of my back is gone;
When my reaction time is slower
And my eyes can’t read the fine print;

When my children are standing above me
And they no longer need my help;
In the challenging years called “retirement”—
Is there something God’s calling me to?

There are words yet to be spoken
Of wisdom, of comfort, of hope;
There are songs yet to be written
Of encouragement, love, and praise;

There are prayers yet to be uttered,
For those lost, those tired, those weak;
There are promises yet to be kept
Unto him who strengthens my days.

When reading and learning take longer
And I can’t remember some names;
When my joints have lost some cushioning
And my diet is somewhat restricted;

When the world around me is different,
And I don’t understand all the words;
In the challenging years called “retirement”—
Is there something God’s calling me to?

There’s a world needing forgiveness—
Those dying who still haven’t heard;
There’s a world needing God’s mercy—
Those lonely, those weary, those hurt.

There’s a world bent toward destruction—
Those lost who need to come home;
There’s a God waiting in heaven
For a church to obey his command.

So whatever may be my calling,
I will pursue it with all of my heart.
With my eyes focused on Jesus,
I will finish that chosen work.

Questions for Reflection:

  • What has God gifted you for and called you to do?
  • In the stage of life that you are now in, how can you best accomplish that work?
  • In what ways are you renewing your spirit so that you do not become discouraged?

Not Yet Sages . . . a Challenge to Keep Learning




You will understand it better by and by was one of my father’s favorite expressions. Now, I understand more clearly what he was talking about. Hopefully, I’ve gained a bit of wisdom. The Old Testament saint, Job,  said, “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” 

Unfortunately, wisdom is not automatically connected with aging. Nor is the number of megabits of information stored in our brains an accurate measurement of the wisdom we possess. Wisdom is not necessarily related to IQ. The kind of learning that makes a difference is not how much we know but what we do with what we know. 

 Wise people, according to the Gospel of Luke, are the ones who are just, righteous or godly.  (Luke 1:16,17) And, according to Jesus, greatness is related to being childlike. (Matthew 18)

Yet, keeping up with the changes and understanding how to navigate my way in an ever-changing world is still brings me some anxiety. Apparently, this is a common fear. (My post with the most views for 2017 was Freedom From the Fear of Aging. )

My plan for 2018 is the keep on learning, to gain a wisdom by diligently putting into practice the knowledge that I, by diligent study and God’s grace, have been given. I do not want to be included with the leaders whom Dallas Willard, in his book The Great Omission, says “do not finish well”. 

In the following poem, I express something of what that means for those of us who are seniors. In future posts, I will share more about what it takes to “finish well”.

 Lord, as we face many changes
We need help; we’re not yet sages.
We can’t assume that we’ve made it
And need no more to be aided.

When our bodies don’t feel as strong,
We find that we can’t get along
On just your word for yesterday;
We need fresh insight for today.

Might there be new ways we could think;
Yet with the old remain in sync?
Could we adapt and learn to say
What still is true another way?

Before we judge the younger folk
We need for you to take a look
At us! Is our journey complete?
Assuming so would bring us defeat.

Perhaps there’s more than just our spine
That can get swollen—out of line.
Oh Lord, we greatly need your grace—
Your hand to help us in this space—

This short gap between birth and death
In which we’ve been given breath.
We thank you, Lord, for all of life–
Love, laughter, hardship, strife.

You’ve brought us safely through each storm,
And we will trust in your strong arm
To keep us in our senior years
Steadfast in faith and free of cares.

10/5/2017 Jane Ault

Christmas Irony


My husband John has written some amazing poems. He graciously agreed to let me share the following one, today.

It’s one of my favorites, portraying a more realistic concept of the birth of Christ than what most of our Christmas cards and programs depict.

More of his poems can be found here

 Christmas Irony

Palestinian rednecks, society’s repugnant rejects with reputations so revolting they were 
forbidden to testify in courts of law.
Unlikely witnesses, chosen by God to catch a glimpse of His Glory
And testify in the world’s court to the birth of His Son.

Magicians from Iraq
Hated and feared by Jews then as much as now.
Following stars, not controlling, simply confessing a king is born.
Signs engraved in the expanding explosive universe. 
Trajectories targeted together and mapped out by the Creator Designer billions of years ago,
So that ants walking on this speck of dust could look to the heavens and know
That God, not Hallmark, cared enough to send the very best.

Puppet King, arrogant, pompous,
Filled with greed and lust for power. 
Matched only by his fear. 
Fear that what he had stolen from others would be ripped from his own hands
By someone more wicked and crafty than himself.
Having killed his wife and three of his sons, unjustified paranoia,
Caesar said, “It’s safer to be Herod’s pig than his son.”
Nothing would stop his blood-stained conscience from killing dozens of babes
In hope of destroying the coming Messiah.

Caesar Augustus.
Ruler of the Empire
Satisfying his every whim,
Conducting a world-wide census to appease his desires for more power and wealth.
All the time, not knowing that the Real Emperor was channeling Caesar’s greed–disrupting the schedule of everyone, simply to guarantee the birthplace of this coming 

A just man, but just a man.
Torn between his love and pain.
Unwilling to find revenge,
Equally unwilling to parent someone else’s supposed one-night stand.
He accepted the unacceptable. Believed the unbelievable,
And faded back into anonymity
Faithfully playing out his bit part to honor Divinity.

A young woman mature in faith far beyond her years,
Accepting the Eternal Seed that would fill millions of hearts with hope and joy,
And hers with pain.

The Innkeeper
Unfairly maligned, providing what he could.
Even his nice rooms being more like a stable than a Holiday Inn.
Helping satisfy God’s sense of humor and irony:
The Savior and King of the Universe, born in a stable.

What Would Happen if Christmas Meant . . .


What would happen in a world like this
If we stopped cursing and started to bless

Those who have hurt us, those we fear?
Who would do this? Who would dare?

What would happen if we took a stand
Against injustice in our land

By looking first at our own hearts?
Who could then throw judgment darts?

What would happen if we de-cluttered our homes,
Sang more songs and wrote more poems,

Listened far more and said far less?
What would we gain? What would we miss?

What would happen if we were less prepared
For our own emergency and we shared

Half of our stash with those who had none?
How would we feel when we were done?

What would happen if we took down fences,
Stopped looking through distorted lenses,

Saw every child as God’s creation?
What would happen in our world and nation?

What would happen if Christmas meant
A lifestyle change instead of an event?

Christmas Gift Suggestion

During Christmas season, at least for a day, many people set aside anger, temporarily let go of grudges, and forgive those who’ve hurt them.  Making this a lifestyle change is more challenging. 

It requires cooperation with God.  My hashtag “choosing grace” refers to the effective combination of interaction with God’s grace and personal responsibility which brings about lasting change. 

Chapter seven in Emotional Freedom (“A Dynamic Dance with the Gardener”) explains what it means to “Choose Grace.” 

When we are choosing, day-by-day, to live in a close relationship with Jesus—relying on his favor, depending on him to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, and trusting him to meet our needs—God’s grace empowers us so that we can overcome our destructive and addictive desires and emotions. (p.51 Emotional Freedom)

This book would be a great gift for those who want to start the New Year by learning how to habitually

(1) choose self-control instead of destructive anger,

(2) move from resentment into joy and 

(3) extend mercy instead of clinging to unforgiveness. 

Buy here.




Our Ultimate Hope


Around Thanksgiving Day, I asked my grandchildren to send me a Christmas wish list. They have great expectations and hope to receive everything on their list. I’ve been working to fulfill some of their desires. Hopefully, they will not be disappointed.

Guess what! By next Christmas, they will probably be tired of or have outgrown this year’s gifts and want something else. The best gift that I can offer my grandchildren is the gift of myself.

The gift of himself is what Jesus brought to the world at Christmas.

Around 2000 years ago, near the time of Jesus’ birth, the world was about as messed up as it is today, yet the people of Israel had great expectations. They were waiting for a promised Messiah—a King who would make life easier on this earth, according to this O.T. promise:

“The heir to David’s throne will come,
and he will rule over the Gentiles.
They will place their hope on him” (Romans 15:12 NLT).

Their hope was that Jesus would overthrow the corrupt government and set them free them from poverty, unjust taxes, and bondage to the Roman Empire.

Guess what! He could have given them these things but that would not have brought them ultimate joy. 

Instead of a King who would change the world around them, Jesus came as a Savior to change the “world” within them. This is reflected in the angel’s word to Joseph concerning the Virgin Mary:

“And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”(Matthew 1:21 NLT).

Today, Jesus still offers to change our inner world—to set us free from our own destructive urges which make us slaves to the devil and the world.

When we put our hope in him, we will not be disappointed. As Jesus’ follower, Paul said,“And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:5 NET)

Jesus’ disciple John tells us that when we invite him to rule our lives, he transforms us so that we become like him. He said, “Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is. And everyone who has this hope focused on him purifies himself, just as Jesus is pure” (1 John 3:2, 3 NET).

This motivates us to action. And even though we are imperfect in our behavior, we know that when Jesus returns or we go to be with him, he will finish the work that he’s started in us. 

Jesus came once as Savior to change our inner world, and he is coming again as a King to transform our outer world.

When we participate in communion, we are reminded of this: He said,“ For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.” (1 Cor. 11:26 NLT)


No more sorrow, no more pain
No more failure, no more shame

No more sickness, no more death
No more robbery or threat

No miscarriage or stillbirth
No pollution on the earth

No more tears, no depression
No slavery or oppression

No abuse, no betrayal
No government, unstable

No injustice, not one liar
No treacherous advisor

No more struggles with the flesh
No more thoughts, devilish

This our hope and strong assurance
Christ will return and keep his promise

11/28/17 Jane Ault

Gratitude for Hearing


In her nineties, my husband’s grandmother was still in fairly good health. But she had did not hear very well. Feeling frustrated about this one day, John said, “Grandma, you need some hearing aids.”

                “I have some,” she said.

                “Where are they?”

                “Right here in my pocket,” she said, as she pulled them out.

At the time, I felt annoyed at Grandma for not wearing her hearing aids. Now, I understand why she put them in her pocket. A few years ago, I did the same thing. Not long after purchasing a set of hearing aids, I discovered they were not the “magical” solution that I thought they would be. So, I quit wearing them and stored them in my jewelry box.

Sometime later I flew to California to visit my grandchildren and sadly discovered that I was probably missing 75% of what they said. I felt very sad–isolated like a lone heron on a rock in the wilderness.

After talking with a friend who has hearing loss and discovering that well-fit hearing aids made a huge difference for her, I decided to try again. With updated hearing aids my hearing, although not perfect, is much improved. This brings me joy because participating in conversations is much easier.

Even if your hearing is perfect, I hope that you will read my blog so that you can encourage your friends or relatives who do have hearing losses to accept the reality of it and seek help.

And if you do have some hearing loss, I hope that you will not feel embarrassed about it. I admit that I have been; that’s why it’s taken me a year to publish this blog. I’ve decided to no longer hide the truth. It’s no different than wearing glasses.

Hearing loss is quite common. These are the statistics.  About 30-35 percent of adults between the ages of 65 and 75 years have a hearing loss. It is estimated that 40-50 percent of people 75 and older have a hearing loss. 

These are the symptoms of hearing loss

  • The speech of others seems mumbled or slurred.
  • High-pitched sounds such as “s” and “th” are difficult to hear and tell apart.
  • Conversations are difficult to understand, especially when there is background noise.
  • A man’s voice is easier to hear than the higher pitches of a woman’s voice.
  • Certain sounds seem annoying or overly loud.
  • Tinnitus (a ringing, roaring, or hissing sound in one or both ears) may also occur.

These are potential effects of hearing loss.

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Social isolation
  • An increased risk of dementia

As a senior, I am doing all I can to avoid these effects of hearing loss.  While I believe that God still performs miracles and he could restore my hearing, he hasn’t instructed me to throw out my hearing aids. I’m thankful for them.

I’m thankful for the knowledge and understanding that he’s given to physicians and hearing specialists, and I’m wearing my hearing aids so that I can participate in conversations with my neighbors, friends, and relatives. 

If you think you have some hearing loss, I hope that you will admit it. You might even add “hearing aids” to your Christmas wish list. If you have perfect hearing, you might assist some friend or relative in purchasing hearing aids.

Owning hearing aids does not automatically mean that I can hear well. I must choose to place them in my ears. Although I’ve been known to put them in my pocket like John’s grandma, most of the time I put them in my ears. 

Still, my hearing aids will not work if they blocked by ear wax. I must keep them clean.

It’s wonderful to be able to hear with my physical ears, but there’s another kind of hearing that’s much more valuable–the ability to hear with my spiritual ears. That too is a choice. Jesus indicated this when he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mark 4:9)

Later in this conversation, Jesus said that our spiritual ears can also become blocked–not by hardened wax but by a hardened heart. According to the writer of Hebrews, the primary cause of a hardened heart is the unbelief that causes us to distrust God; consequently, we get stuck in cycles of destructive (sinful) behavior. (Hebrews 3:12, 13)

When we chose spiritual hardness of hearing and hardness of heart, we often get stuck in bitter resentment. But God who is merciful and forgiving offers us freedom and joy.

In Emotional Freedom, there’s a  simple diagram which describes how to find this freedom. It’s available here.

















How Gratitude Reduces Depression

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.
 He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. (James 1:17 NLT)
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

In last week’s post, I shared something about my struggles with depression. I wish I could say that every time I became depressed, I recovered totally and instantly. With no effort on my part. It’s simply untrue. Sometimes, I hang out with ‘Friend’ depression for quite a while before I can shake her off.

Expressing gratitude is one of the actions I take to help me recover energy and joy. When I wake up, I may not feel thankful. I might feel more like complaining. Would it help me to complain? Am I being dishonest if I, instead, give thanks? It helps me to remember that gratitude is an attitude, not a feeling. It’s a choice I can make regardless of how I feel.

When I heard that the weather forecast for today, April 1, is snow, I did not feel happy. I wanted warm sunshine. I could have chosen to complain. Instead, I found the above photo of crocuses in my garden and focused on it. Each spring, these flowers work their way up through the wintry soil and dried leaves and delight my heart with brilliant color. I think it pleases my generous, gift-giving Father in heaven when, on a snowy spring day, I chose to smile and give thanks. When I do so, my heart begins to feel lighter.

Here’s the list of gratitude statements I’ve written so far, today. They are primarily simple things that can easily be overlooked.

  • Even though I walk slower and I can’t walk as far as I used to do, I still have the ability to walk.
  • My sharp and usually accurate sense of smell brings me joy. The aroma of peanut butter on toasted bread, which my husband prepared in the kitchen, whet my appetite for breakfast.
  • I had enough freshly ground coffee to make a cupful this morning. My 4-cup coffee maker worked perfectly, thanks to reliable electric power in my neighborhood.
  • The ability to make an easy-over egg without breaking the yoke made me feel happy. I’m thankful for the cooking skills I learned when younger.
  • I treasure my husband’s presence and feel deeply grateful for his desire and willingness to discuss a portion of Scripture and pray with me, again today. He values my insights. I value his.
  • In this eighth decade of life, my fingers are still flexible and I can move them quite rapidly over my computer keyboard, as well as my piano keys.
  • I can put up with the slight discomfort of support hose and will choose to be thankful for them today, knowing I need them.
  • My cataract surgery was successful, I need glasses only for reading, and I can pay for prescription eye drops for my dry eyes!
  • It’s been easy to think of the good in today and in writing these statements down, I feel encouraged.
  • How can my heart not feel grateful?

Depression: A Diagnosis, Not An Indictment

Come quickly, Lord, and answer me,
    for my depression deepens.
Don’t turn away from me,
    or I will die.
 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
    for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk,
    for I give myself to you.

Psalm 147:7-8 (NLT)

“I think you are depressed,” my doctor said. “You need to see a counselor.” “NO!” I wanted to scream. My body stiffened. I felt indignant but managed to keep my cool. A month later, when I saw her about another problem, she again asked me to consider seeing a counselor. I agreed to let her give me a referral. Two weeks later I met with the counselor. She said, “You are depressed.”

I felt embarrassed. That made me feel more depressed. How could I, a counselor, myself, need a counselor? How could I, who in years past was depressed but spent money and time to work through issues, be depressed again? For a week or so, I felt defeated.

Then, I realized that depression is not an indictment. It’s a diagnosis. Depression does not mean I am a criminal. It means I am human. Christians, as well as those of other faiths, and those of no faith can become depressed. Denial of depression deepens it. Acknowledging it is the first step toward recovery.

In Psalm 147 (quoted above), David acknowledged his depression. Then, he called on the Lord for help. Every time I’ve admitted that I’m depressed and prayed for help Jesus has heard my prayer and provided the help I need. In a way, depression can be called a “friend”. Not a friend I want to walk with for very long, but a friend who alerts me to the fact I need help.

Depression is a Friend of Mine

A friend? (I hear you ask.)
I can’t imagine why you want her
Get rid of her—and fast

She will ruin you completely
She will take up all your time,
She will rob you of your energy
And use up your last dime.

I used to think as you do
About my friend, Depression
I was embarrassed by her presence
Until I learned this lesson:

Her purpose is to warn me 
To tell me something’s wrong;
In some way my life’s off balance;
Perhaps I’ve worked too long.

I have overdosed on sugar
With a resulting glucose plunge
Or my hormones are not flowing
Like they were when I was young 

I just might be a couch potato—
Neglecting exercise,
And my windows are all shut
No fresh air can get inside.

So, my body’s lacking sunshine—
Not much serotonin remains.
I may have buried anger,
Covered over guilt or pain

I might have buried anger,
Felt helpless to confront
Persons or situations
That are painful or unjust.

Or I’m hiding painful memories
And rejecting who I am;
So, I deny my giftedness
And feel like a sham.

Because of lies I’ve sheltered
In my subconscious mind,
I try to change direction
But cannot do what I design.

I may have experienced a loss
And not fully processed grief;
In the circumstance I’m facing,
I’m questioning my belief. 

The problem might be simple
But, often, it’s complex.
Depression won’t play God
She can’t tell me what to fix.

When I’m given knowledge
I become responsible,
I must take some steps to change
And overcome that obstacle
Depression is not pleasant;
She’s a friend of confusion
But she certainly won’t leave me
If I ignore her intrusion.

Yet, Depression does respect me
Yes, she is polite;
When I do the needed action
She, eventually, takes flight.

Who and Who Not to Fear

[Jesus said,] “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Luke 12: 4-9 (NIV)

Oh, how easy it is for me to become overconcerned about the opinion of others. To fear human power rather than trust in the security of God’s love for me. Especially if I sense shame or physical danger. As I watch the war in Ukraine progress and see the courage of people there, particularly President Zelensyyy, I’m amazed. I can think of no other person who is so unafraid (as Jesus told his followers to be) of those who kill the body. He demonstrates courage combined with compassion more than most world leaders have done for generations.

Jesus instructed his disciples to not be afraid of humankind; then, he told them who to fear. Maybe it sounds like a double message. How can we both love and fear God? And what does it mean to fear God? We can only fear and love God if we understand his nature. Jesus, God in human form, showed us God’s nature. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is described as being “full of grace and truth”. (John 1:14)

He clearly demonstrated what it means to fear God (humbling himself and respecting the authority of our Father in heaven) and to love God (keeping his commandments of love in all relationships).

We, humans, tend to emphasize grace or truth to the neglect of the other. Our knowledge of both is incomplete. We make ourselves the authority of truth and judge others according to our standards. By embracing truth without grace, we become proud and legalistic. God, alone, who is all-knowing can define truth with accuracy.

When we de-emphasize truth or define it according to our own desires and focus on grace, we also mess up. This causes us to overlook and downplay the presence of dysfunction (sin) in all of us. In describing the human heart, Jesus said, “From the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander”. It’s because of this that we need grace. God’s desire for us is forgiveness and freedom from sin and Jesus made this possible.

One of the most beautiful descriptions of truth combined with grace is this: “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin so that we could be made right with God through Christ”. (2 Corinthians 5: 21 NLT)

In the words of that famous hymn, “Amazing Grace”, it was grace that taught my heart to fear [God]. By looking at Jesus’ life, I saw my dysfunction. “And grace my fear relieved”. By looking at Jesus’s death, I saw God’s compassionate grace. My love for him is a response to his love for me.

Lord, you have a panoramic view of every
ocean, valley, and mountain peak.

Yet, you count each hair upon my head and
See the sparrows nest in yonder tree.

Such knowledge I shall never comprehend,
Greater still the mystery of your love for me.

You choose to die upon a cross!
You choose to save a fallen one like me.

Sparrows are such common birds. I prefer more colorful cardinals, goldfinch, and dainty hummingbirds. God does not overlook sparrows. That tells me he cares about common people. Those who go unnoticed. He sees the details of their body, knows the number of hairs on their head. If God values sparrows how much more he values humans like you and me. 

Sparrows fall. So do we do we humans. Sparrows fight with one another for the seeds on my deck. Sadly, we humans do too. In small ways,  like children over the largest piece of candy. In disastrous ways. Like war. How thankful I am for God's provision of grace!

Everything Here is Passing Away

And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
1 John 2:27 (NLT)
We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. Ecclesiastes 5:15

A few years ago, I went back to the farm where I lived as a teenager. The house was gone. The only thing that remained was this dilapidated barn. I cried. Recently, I located on a Google map the house where two of my grandparents lived. My grandmothers’ well-kept lawn was nothing but mud. Broken shades hung on the windows. The house needed painting. Again, I cried.

I felt the truth of the words “this world is fading away”. I can’t imagine what Ukrainians have been feeling, as their cities are destroyed and decimated by bombs, rockets, and missiles. They don’t have the bare necessities of life, food, clothing, water, heat, and shelter.

Yet, their spirits don’t seem broken. Yesterday, ABC Evening News showed a video of a seven-year-old girl in a bunker singing. As I listened to her beautiful voice, I cried.

I wonder how we, the richest nations of the world, would handle ourselves in such a situation. Today, I read an article about the level of anxiety in various countries of the world at this time. It showed that people in rich countries suffer a higher degree of anxiety. As Jesus said, “I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25 (NLT)

If Jesus’ words are true, let’s live like they are.

Everything here is passing away 
We’re around for a very short day.
Let us not plan and let us not boast 
About the great things we think we can do.

Listen to God and do what he says;
Don’t try to look good or try to impress
Our family, friends, and people at work
Like us, they’re dust, their life will soon end.

If we serve God, we’ll get a reward 
He cannot lie; he is true to his word.
His promise is life and unending joy
To those with faith who long for his return.

Let us make sure, as we patiently wait, 
We keep ourselves clean—pure in his sight;
Quickly settle disputes, and seek peace;
For he shall come back—but we don’t know when.

Let’s set our minds on pleasing our Lord;
Let go of things we cannot afford,
Pay all of our bills; get rid of our debts.
Take actions to live a more simple life

Stop all the useless games that we play;
Time is soon gone, don’t throw it away.
For many are lost and live without hope
With all of life’s pain, they futilely cope.

It was for them not only for us
That our Savior died, he went to the cross.
And now it remains for someone to go
Why do we delay? Why are we so slow?

It Won’t Happen Here

Do not boast about tomorrow,
    for you do not know what a day may bring. Proverbs 27:1 (NIV)
The prudent see danger and take refuge,
    but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. Proverbs 27:12

“Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil,” was a common expression I heard while growing up. It referred to hearing, seeing, and speaking of the best in people. This is certainly commendable, but this phrase can also be used to avoid seeing, hearing, and speaking about that which is dangerous and destructive. In our environment. In others. In ourselves. Denial is costly. Untruthful. Unloving.

How long did it take various countries to come to grips with the reality of Covid? How long did countries of the world fool themselves into thinking Russian troops would never attack Ukraine? How many devastating forest fires, floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis will it take before we accept the reality of climate change?

I find there needs to be a balance in my life. If I look at photos of Ukraine and listen to updates about the war all day long, I feel overwhelmed with grief. I can only pray effectively and think reasonably about this distressing situation if I look away from it from time to time. Out of a heart of compassion, I mourn with those who mourn and pray for them. By looking at Jesus, who exemplified truth and grace, I find peace of mind and do what I can to help in some practical way.

I learned quite early in life how to deny the reality of unpleasant and unacceptable emotions, along with physical limitations. To “burn-out” was an approved practice. This proved to be very costly for me. It resulted in years of depression.

Recently, I’ve been listening to an audio version of An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest by Alan Fadling. I’m reminded, again, of how important it is to slow down and listen, to live in the reality of my humanity. I am not god. I need God. I need others. They need me. We are interdependent. A tendency to deny these bottom-line truths is a dangerous type of pride. It flows out of unreality and leads to isolation. Isolation increases our denial of reality.

Greatness arises in those who in true humility are simply themselves, nothing more and nothing less, who live in honesty, not pretense. Living in reality gives us the energy and wisdom to do what is truly loving.

We must guard against denial, first of all, in our own hearts.

Jesus, measuring tape so true,
I stand myself next to you.

Here, I’m safe to be alone.
You tell me how much I’ve grown;

Then show me what I cannot see —
The sin that still resides in me;

The habit I still need to break, 
The new one I must create.

By your grace, I succeed, 
Forever, you intercede.

I rejoice in your acceptance.
Your presence is my evidence.

Daily, you give me a song.
You speak and I know I belong.

I’m not satisfied with the norm.
I want you to fully transform

My heart, my mind, and my soul;
I want to be holy and whole.

Does God Love Me When I Doubt?

And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has in us.
God is love, and the one who resides in love resides in God, and God resides in him.1 John 4:16 (NET)
The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God.
Happy is the one who does not condemn himself in what he approves.
Romans 14:22 (NASB)

Coming to believe in the depth of our hearts that God loves us is easier for some people than for others. For many, it’s a life-long struggle. I’m one of those people. That’s because of lies I believed. Lies about God. Lies about myself. Lies about what faith is. Gradually, God has been showing me what these lies are and my trust has grown stronger. Still, I sometimes doubt.

I’m encouraged as I find out from stories in the Bible that God loves doubters. He’s patient with them. He answers their prayers. He gives them the evidence they need to believe. In one story, a man whose son suffered uncontrollable seizures heard of Jesus. He didn’t have much faith but in desparation, he said,

“‘If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!”

Jesus said, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.”

 No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!'” (Mark 9:22-24 MSG) Jesus honored the faith this father had and answered his prayer. I’m sure this increased the man’s faith.

The ease in which we believe God loves us and our readiness to trust him is greatly affected by the culture and the home we’re born into. How do our parents treat us? Are they patient, fair, and kind?, Or quick-tempered, unfair, and mean? Do they offer grace or demand perfection? It’s natural for us to think that God is like these first authority figures.

In addition to the messages about God we’ve received from our family, we have our own beliefs about God’s love and reliability. Conclusions we’ve come to through our experiences, reading, and reflection. Sometimes instead of asking God to show me what he is like and what he wants, I focus on what I want him to be like and what I expect him to give me. So when he doesn’t immediately answer my prayer, I doubt he loves me.

Delay on God’s part to answer prayer may or may not be related to my faith or lack of it. It’s possible, he wants my trust to grow deeper, and give me a heart that perseveres. To believe with my mind is one thing. To believe with my heart is another thing. Through the hard experiences in life, I’ve learned to know God better and trust him more deeply. My faith has moved from being something others told me I should believe to something my mind and heart believe.

I’m convinced God answers our prayers not so much on the strength of our faith but more on the strength of his love and mercy. Instead of covering up and denying doubts, I bring them to him. He receives me just as I am. My love for him and my confidence in him grows.

I am learning to practice what the psalmist did. He said to God, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3 NIV

I rely on the love God has for me.
Though l trust imperfectly,
My God keeps on loving me.

I rely on the love God has for me.
Not put off by my anxiety,
My God keeps on loving me--

When this truth I fail to see, 
My God keeps on loving me.
Someday, I know I'll be free

Of fear and anxiety, for
My God keeps on loving me,
My heart asks, “How this can be?”

“I love him so imperfectly.”
Then one day I finally see
Why God keeps on loving me.

‘Cause God is love. He cannot be 
Anything less than loving to me;
Knowing this sets my heart free.

Though I still trust imperfectly,
My God keeps on loving me.
Someday, there’ll be no doubt in me.

Winds of Fear or Wings of Grace

He who observes the wind will not sow.
                                                Ecclesiastes 11:4

I look at the thermometer. It reads 45°. To my husband I say, “A good day to go for a walk.”
    “There’s a cold wind." he responds. You might want to step out the garage door and check it.” 
     “Oh, I don’t think I’ll go. I’ll walk inside.” 

After a few minutes, I look out the window. The tree branches are barely moving. I put on my warm coat, pull my knit hat over my ears and walk outside. I sniff the air. It’s so much fresher than the stale air inside my house. The wind blows. I'm facing it. Sweeping under my hat and swishing around my ears, it threatens to carry it off. Securing my hat with my mittened gloves, I keep walking. 

When I’ve walked as far as I want go for the day, I turn around and head back home. Now the wind is on my back, gently pushing me up the hill. Strengthened by it's energy, I feel as if I have wings. I’m flying. 

Fear, like a strong wind in our face, can cause us to turn back. Or we can walk into it. When we do so, God's Grace, like an empowering wind, gives us wings. Power to fly.

Are winds of fear causing you to doubt you can handle a challenge in your life? I hope you will not give up and turn back. Instead, face your challenge. With the power of God's grace, fly above fear.  

While walking home, I recalled the following poem I wrote a few years ago when  feeling anxious and hesitant about writing. 
a risk
false labor
a first attempt
a practice run
we must all began somewhere

the fearful
the perfectionist
and the procrastinator
fail to begin

for them
are signals of guilt
indications of failure
so they withdraw

threatened by clouds of disapproval
they refuse to plant.
they remain unknown
unheard of

withholding their talents from the world
their laboratories become
tombstones of anonymity
productive only
of boredom

If we do nothing with our gifts and talents , we rob both others and ourselves of joy.

Don’t Let Indecision Paralze you.

Elijah said to people wavering in their commitment, “How long are you going to be paralyzed by indecision?”
1 Kings 18:21 (NET)

This morning I read the Old Testament story of Elijah confronting the indecisive people of his day. One word stunned me. Paralyzed. Someone who is paralyzed goes nowhere. Someone who refuses to make a decision goes nowhere. I never thought my indecisiveness was too serious. I never thought about how it keeps me stuck.

What does it feel like to be stuck? I know what it’s like to get stuck in a snowdrift. I’ve driven into a snowdrift and stepped into a snowdrift. I could go nowhere. The more I moved the deeper my car or feet sunk into the snow. Until I called for and received help, I remained there. Cold. Lonely. Anxious.

I thought about what decisions I’ve been avoiding. One is the decision whether or not to renew my website for another year or not? Whether or not to keep writing and posting my blog? I thought about how this indecision has been affecting me. How is it keeping me stuck?

This is what I realized. Not making a decision is a decision. It’s a ‘No’ I’m not admitting to. Not writing and posting anything has been kept me stuck in a snow drift of negative thinking. Self-doubt. Anxiety. Do I want to get out of this drift? Yes. I do. With the help of God’s grace, I am doing so. I’m making a commitment to write and publish a post every Friday.

Maybe you would like to ask yourself these questions.

  • What decisions am I avoiding?
  • Why am I avoiding them?
  • In what way(s) is this failure to me?

Good came down at Christmas

God is good to one and all;
    everything he does is soaked through with grace.

Psalm 145:9 (MSG)


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.