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Advent Reading Week 1

Tis the season to bring back the Advent Reading schedule. If you are a seasoned Stillness reader you know that I use this reading schedule every Christmas. Honestly, how many ways can you tweak an Advent Reading schedule? I pray that you will take the time out of your busy Christmas season to reflect upon the birth of our Savior and prepare our hearts for the new year ahead of us.

We will again be breaking down the Advent reading schedule into four sections. Each section will include five days of scripture reading. This week’s scripture reading will focus on how God prepared the way for Jesus to come into the world.

December 1st: John 1:1-514-18
December 2nd: Luke 1:1-25
December 3rd: Luke 1:57-66 & John 1:6-9
December 4th: Luke 1:67-80
December 5th: Luke 3:1-6 & John 1:19-42


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Thanksgiving – Days 19-25

I hope you have enjoyed digging a bit deeper into having a heart of thanksgiving. Print the scripture cards and leave them next to your bed or wherever you spend time with the Lord.

While you read each day’s verse ask yourself these questions:

  1. What does this verse teach me about God?
  2. How can you apply it to your life?
  3. How can I praise God today?

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Thanksgiving – Days 13-18

This month we will be taking the time to reflect upon developing a thankful heart. Every six days I will provide five scripture cares with verses of thanksgiving. Print the scripture cards and leave them next to your bed or wherever you spend time with the Lord.

While you read each day’s verse ask yourself these questions:

  1. What does this verse teach me about God?
  2. How can you apply it to your life?
  3. How can I praise God today?

I pray that these verses will help us develop a heart of thanksgiving.


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Thanksgiving – Days 7-12

This month we will be taking the time to reflect upon developing a thankful heart. Every six days I will provide five scripture cares with verses of thanksgiving. Print the scripture cards and leave them next to your bed or wherever you spend time with the Lord.

While you read each day’s verse ask yourself these questions:

  1. What does this verse teach me about God?
  2. How can you apply it to your life?
  3. How can I praise God today?

I pray that these verses will help us develop a heart of thanksgiving.


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Thanksgiving – Days 1-6

This month we will be taking the time to reflect upon developing a thankful heart. Every six days I will provide five scripture cares with verses of thanksgiving. Print the scripture cards and leave them next to your bed or wherever you spend time with the Lord.

While you read each day’s verse ask yourself these questions:

  1. What does this verse teach me about God?
  2. How can you apply it to your life?
  3. How can I praise God today?

I pray that these verses will help us develop a heart of thanksgiving.


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Springs In The Valley

“You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills.” Psalm 104:10

The one thing I have learned in my almost 53 years of life is that life is unpredictable. I would never have thought that my life would have taken the twists and turns that it has. Some twists have been fun like going on a fun ride at Disneyland while other turn have brought me into deep dark valleys. Over half a century of life has taught me that although these deep dark valleys are unpleasant they do have a purpose.

Purpose is defined as, “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” Okay, if the valleys have a purpose in my life then that means God has created them for me to walk through. In order to wrap my head around this idea of valleys having a purpose I think we need to see what God says about it in His Word.

We are created in His image (Genesis 1:26). We were intricately created by God to know God and to have Him intimately know us. This means that if God is omniscient (“God knows everything, past, present and future”) then I can trust that He has a purpose for everything I go through (Psalm 139:13-18). We were created to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). All things, including us, were created through God and for Him (Colossians 1:16). We were created to proclaim His glory. To be a witness for what He did when He called us out of darkness and “into his marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9).

Now that we have some understanding about what God’s purpose is for mankind we need to see what His purpose is for Christ Followers.

As Christ Followers we are required to obey the will of God. This means we are to fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). We are to share Jesus with those who don’t know Him (Matthew 28:18-20). We are to not conform to this world. Rather we should be transformed by spending time with the Lord through prayer, reading the Bible and fellowshipping with other Christ Followers (Romans 12:1-2). We need to stand firm in our faith and in unity with other Christ Followers (Philippians 1:27). We need to have a heart of thanksgiving and praise the Lord (I Thessalonians 5:18).

This is where things can get a bit uncomfortable and often confusing. Suffering has a purpose and God often allows us to suffer. Our suffering may be the result of some greater purpose (Genesis 50:1-21). Our suffering displays God’s glory (John 9:1-3). Our suffering suffering produces endurance, character and hope (Romans 5:1-5).

I do not often understand the “why’s” of suffering. I do know that I have lived long enough to see the other side of some of the things I have suffered through. I have seen the purpose in my suffering not only for my own spiritual growth, deeper faith, trust and ultimately hope in Christ. But I have also seen my suffering glorify God in ways I’d have never expected.

I do understand that there are types of suffering resulting from deep trauma or loss that may not have another side here on earth. I can not speak into this kind of pain because I have not experienced it myself. Nor do I want to treat it lightly because of my inexperience. What I can do is remind you that you are not alone in your suffering because the Lord is with you. We see the truth in this fact in our focus verse, “You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills.”

God makes “springs gush forth in the valleys”. No matter how barren and deep your valley, God is deeper. Not only is He deeper than your valley but He will provide you with life sustain spiritual water. He does this through His Word and the encouragement of others.


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Unfulfilled Potential

“Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” Isaiah 48:18

The people of Israel. I use to think what was up with them? WHY in the world could they NOT just obey God? They’ve been the recipients of His blessings, protection and provision. Yet, they can’t seem to get their acts together long enough to keep from being disobedient. Ahh, hindsight is a weird thing. It makes you feel like you have the right to judge the actions of the past with knowledge of the outcome that the past didn’t have.

Here’s the thing, I/we are no different than the Israelites. Would I have complained about the lack of food/water? That would be a firm YES. Would I have forgotten the powerful things God has done for me when facing another trial? Probably. It is easy to let your physical needs and emotions get the better of you when faced with challenging circumstances. They tend to override spiritual knowledge unless you take deliberate action to turn to the Lord and remember.

We read in today’s verse that God is lamenting over the fact that the Israelites were not living up to their full potential because of their disobedience. If they had they would have had unlimited supernatural peace. Along with this amazing peace they would have grown stronger and more numerous.

God loves to use nature as examples. In this verse He uses water in the form of a river and sea. Nothing gives me greater joy than to go on a hike close to a river where I can listen to the rushing of the water. When I get opportunities to sit next to one I love to sit still, close my eyes and let the river music flow over me. It brings such peace into my soul. I also love to float on top of water and allow the waves to gently rock me back and forth. Both bodies of water give life and are in never ending motion. When we stay in obedience to the Lord we are provided with life-giving, overflowing, never ending peace.

I like what Redpath has to say about this, “It is sobering to think what unfulfilled potential we have, and what disobedience or unbelief keeps us from everything God has for us. ‘Yes, I am deeply impressed with the simplicity of the road to revival. Just twenty-four hours’ obedience in our lives, and we would be living in such a flood tide of Holy Spirit blessing that there would not be room enough to contain it!’”

I pray that today you will pause at the beginning of your day and tap into this wealth of living water. Let it flow over you, float you sing beautiful music to you. Don’t let the world or your circumstances leave you with unfulfilled potential of what God has provided for you to have.


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The Road of Life

“Make me understand your ways, O Lord. Teach me your paths. Guide me into your truth and teach me. For you are the God who delivers me; on you I rely all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5

This is a picture of a road I’ve driven on for the past 30+ years. It is a road that connects me to family that lives on the other side of the state from where I live. One can start out at the coast, drive through a rain forest, snow capped mountains, a desert and back to beautiful forests. Forest that are more dry and made up of different types of trees but forests non-the-less.

Driving in the middle of the state through nothing but miles of hilly desert land is the most boring part of the trip. Sure, the land is beautiful and the rolling desert hills and pasture lands amazing. But even beautiful rolling desert hills and pasture lands get boring after seeing the same thing for several hours. By the time we get close to the other side of the state I am yearning to get back to seeing tall green trees.

Going across the state with so many different climates reminds me of life. As we roll down the road of life we experience times of fulfillment and peace like being in a lush green rainforest. At some point we have to climb up mountain passes and then hit patches of barren desert. Eventually you hit a forest that is green but dryer than the rainforest you started out in. Bit by bit our lives unfold along this road as we weave in and out of traffic, meet people along the way and experiencing different types of road bumps.

This reminded me of something I sent to my cancer support group last week . . .

“God does not show us the whole plan of our life at a burst, but unfolds it to us bit by bit. Each day He gives us the opportunity of weaving a curtain, carving a peg, fashioning the metal. We know not what we do, but at the end of our life the disjointed pieces will suddenly come together, and we shall see the symmetry and beauty of the divine thought. Then we shall be satisfied. In the meantime let us believe that God’s love and wisdom are doing the very best for us. In the morning ask God to show you His plan for the day in the unfolding of its events, and to give you grace to do or bear all that He may have prepared.” – F.B. Meyer

I pray that you will look up throughout your day, throughout your sorrow, struggles and worries. I don’t know the plan God has for you or why you have to go through what you are going through. But I do know He does have a plan and He is walking alongside you each step of the way.


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Broken Trees

My husband and I have fallen in love with day hiking. The forests we hike through are filled with life. We see life in the trees towering above us and as we hear the birds and insects flutter and buzz around us. Every forest I’ve ever walked through is also filled with old logs from trees that have been knocked/cut down or have fallen over from old age or disease. One would think that a dead fallen trees would not be able to give life but they do. In fact they are filled with life. Other trees, ferns, moss and wild flowers grow out of these broken down trees. Even insects and wildlife can find nutrients in them.

Last week my women’s ministry director, Roberta Rowe, said, “Broken trees still bear fruit.” This is true of nature as well as in our lives. Brokenness comes in many shapes and sizes. Large brokenness can be seen like the large fallen tree logs I see when I hike through the forest. Yet, there are types of brokenness that are so small that they are not easily seen. This is the type of brokenness we can hide from others but still affects us deeply. The smaller brokenness reminds me of the twigs that break off of trees. They often get lost among leaves, dirt and moss that lay on the ground of the forest. What we can’t always see does not go unseen. Birds see them as something important and vital to new life. They use these twigs to build a nest where they can lay their eggs, protect and nurture their little ones. 

Thinking about all the types of brokenness reminds me that God can use all our broken pieces to transform not only our lives but the lives of others. I know this because new life can come from our broken pieces. God will use our brokenness to direct us to Him and experience His life giving hope and joy.

I believe the key to being a broken tree that bears fruit is that we need to stay close to the life giving vine (the Lord). John 15:1-5 says, “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He takes away every branch that does not bear fruit in me. He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit. You are clean already because of the word that I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remainsin me—and I in him—bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing.”

We have to develop spiritual eyes during our broken moments. Eyes that see and recall God’s promises as we read/listen to His Word or spend time fellowshipping with other believers. 

This week I’ve been reading through Psalm 119. Within this long chapter I discovered many verses that speak into this idea of that broken trees still bear fruit.

“Open my eyes so I can truly seethe marvelous things in your law” (Verse 18).

“Teach me, O Lord, the lifestyle prescribed by your statutes, so that I might observe it continually. Give me understanding so that I might observe your law, and keep it with all my heart.Guide mein the path of your commands, for I delight to walk in it.Give me a desire for your rules,rather than for wealth gained unjustly. Turn my eyes away from what is worthless.Revive me with your word.Confirm to your servant your promise,which you made to the one who honors you” (Verses 33-38).

“O how I love your law! All day long I meditate on it” (Verse 97).

One last thing . . . we must develop a heart of thanksgiving. One thing I am thankful for is the Lord providing us His Word (the Bible). It is a life giving source of spiritual nutrients for us to turn throughout the day and night. Psalm 119:162 says, “I rejoice in your instructions, like one who finds much plunder” (Verse 162).

I pray that the Lord will meet you in your brokenness this week.