What are You Reading?

I’m always interested in hearing what others are reading during the summer.  Here’s one I just started by Timothy Keller. I’ll tell you more about it in my Monday blog. God is using it to remind me not only of the power of prayer, but also the joy of entering into this time of loving solitude with God. Check it out, and let me know what you are reading and how it is blessing you.

3108580: Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God

Ever wonder if your petitions are finding their way to God’s ear? Do you “chat” with the Lord instead of connecting with him? Offering biblical guidance and wisdom, Keller shows how to make your quiet times more personal and powerful. Discover how to talk to God about grief, loss, love, forgiveness, and more. 336 pages, softcover from Penguin.

The Secret to Great Peace

Young woman sitting near wheat field, reading.

Great peace have those who love your law,
    and nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119:165

A great inner peace is something that all of us want to experience, yet it seems that few actually enjoy this beautiful reward in their own personal life. Why is it? Why don’t more of God’s people experience this precious tranquility? Could it be that the secret to great peace is actually found in delighting in the Scriptures? The psalmist reminds us that those who love God’s law have great peace.

Maybe you are familiar with people who pour over the pages of scripture and live with a daily inner peace despite the challenges they may face. Perhaps it is because as they reflect on God’s written word, their minds are reminded of His unfailing love. They are reassured of His power and strength to care for their every need as they find their hope in the Bible. Yet someone who doesn’t invest in getting to know the Bible is not able to live by that same sort of reassurance.

Isaiah wrote:

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.

As our minds are focused on Him through the reading of His Word, our faith can’t help but grow and flower into a perfect peace. Jesus spoke about peace when He said,” These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Jesus is the fulfillment of the law, so if we look once again at the first phrase of Psalm 119:165 and insert Jesus’ name, we see it with a fresh joy. “Great peace have those who love Jesus.” Let us love the One who came to give us peace with God and peace within our hearts when the storms of life come our way.

Thank you Lord, for giving us a great peace that only you can give. My friend, will you join me in reading His Word each day and delighting in His love and care for you?

For more about reading God’s Word, check out Becoming a Woman of the Word.

Creating Calm


4 Tips for More Peace and Less Stress

Need a little calm in your life? Between the gazillion emails hanging over your head or the crazy amount of activities in your life or the unexpected daily challenges and distractions, perhaps a little peace sounds like a good thing. Although we may not be able to change our circumstances, we can learn to experience calm despite the chaos. Here are four ways to decrease the tension and increase the peace.

Walk and Talk: A simple walk can do wonders for your perspective. Not only does exercise increase the endorphins (one of the happy hormones in the brain), but you can also benefit from enjoying God’s great creation. Sunshine and nature have a calming effect on our emotions, and help us relax physically. As you walk, talk  (not aloud of course) with the Lord and praise Him for His many attributes.  In the Old Testament we read about Enoch who walked with God.  When we praise the Creator of all things, a deep delight wells up in us and replaces the anxieties, worries or fears that may be rumbling around in our minds. Praising God is an exercise of rejoicing in who He is, and reminding ourselves that our great and loving Heavenly Father is bigger than our cares.

Guard your Mind: Often our thought-life robs us of experiencing peace. Despair, worry, bitterness and anger can plague our minds if we let them. But we don’t have to be a slave to our thoughts. We decide what we will dwell on, and we have the ability to change our focus. The Bible reminds us that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. Recognize when you are allowing negative thought patterns to creep in and make a decision that you are not going to continue to replay those tapes.

Fill Up with Truth: If we turn our minds away from hopelessness, then we need to fill our minds with something positive. Paul told the Philippians to think on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely or admirable. Nothing brings more calm and peace to my mind than reading the Bible. Scripture reminds us of a powerful God who loves and cares for us. For me personally, there are certain passages that I have memorized (Psalm 23, 103, 121), and they have become a refreshment to my soul when I review them. Isaiah reminds us, “He will keep in perfect peace, those whose minds are stayed on Him.” Open up your Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to nourish your hungry soul. You will be amazed at the peace and strength you find in His living Word.

Surrender: What are you holding onto with clenched fists? Are you willing to pry your hands off of it and surrender your cares, your will or your attitude over to the Lord? You are not surrendering your heart and your cares into oblivion or nothingness, rather you are surrendering your cares to Almighty God whose unfailing love for you can never be quenched. Recently, I ran across an interesting term that seems to illustrate what I’m trying to say. It is an equestrian term – the German word, Losgelassenheit. This term is not easily translated into English, yet it is rich with meaning and motion. “When a horse is losgelassen, he is working but without tension, active without tightness, enthusiastic without evasiveness, he allows his energy to be shaped by his rider without offering resistance. He is lively, yet submissive.” (TrainingTree.net/Losgelassenheit)

Author Martha Beck calls this motion “a joyful and fluid dance” in which the horse is completely relaxed and trusts his rider. The rider (or master),  on the other hand must be experienced, caring and observant. Isn’t this a beautiful picture of our relationship with our Father, who knows us, loves us and cares for us? We can work without tension, as we allow our lives to be shaped and directed by our Father. When we realize that we are not running the show, but that we can trust the one who is, there is a sense of peace and joy that consumes us as we move through the daily chaos. Take a moment right now to surrender your heart, your will and your cares to Him and invite Him to lead you, guide you and comfort you.  Always remember the same Spirit that brought order from chaos in creation, is the Spirit who lives within you.

If you want to get to know your Bible better, read Becoming a Woman of the Word.

Guest Blogger Shelley S. Cramm


This week, I’ve invited my friend Shelley S. Cramm to be our guest blogger. I know you will love what she has to share. Shelley is the author of devotions for NIV God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, and has found the Word of God to be completely useful and practical in her everyday life—not to mention delightfully fun! Her background includes work in architectural and garden design, as well as involvement in a local Toastmasters International club, Bible study groups, Moms in Prayer, and Moms of Preschoolers ministries. Inspiration to write a gardener’s Bible grew out of a routine of morning journaling and an enduring hope to finish up the laundry and get out to the garden. Shelley and her husband Topher have five children and live in Irving, Texas. For more information, visit www.gardeninDelight.com.


autumn crocus sq

As a garden writer, my favorite place to embrace and live out Positive Life Principles is in the garden, of course! The methodical pace of garden work seems to open up God’s ministry to my mind and moving forward in life, and God-sent glimpses of Scriptures or memories of Bible stories become my meditation. His Word breaks through mental burdens formed under the pressures of livelihoods or the sufferings of our loved ones to bring God’s hope, solace, and courage to carry on.

For example, recently I retreated to the backyard after our college daughter left for a summer camp job, one that will take her away for the whole season. I was prepared to mourn her loss when she left for freshman year, but now heartache unbalanced me all over again.  Will I be undone with such sadness every summer? We have more children; will all their departures distress me like this? Ugh. What a terrible system, I moaned. I took my protest to the garden (of course), to prepare a new bed for onions, wailing and murmuring at the whole process of life changes, not unlike the Israelites in the Sinai Desert (Numbers 11:4-10).

While gathering the gumption to wrestle the work of turning over soil and mixing in compost (first requiring the overturn of my compost heap—another ugh!), a simpler task caught my attention. I’ll quickly plant my order of autumn crocus bulbs, the flowers that spring up after hot summers in the dry lands of the Bible.

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. Isaiah 35:1-2 NIV

I hunted for some pots to plant them in, amused through my sorrow as I realized that with my forgetfulness in watering pots, these will soon resemble the parched Promised Land!  A small smile emerged and soon I remembered the joy God’s Word communicates in seeing a lifeless stretch of earth burst into bloom. Thoughts drifted to our daughter and the burst of life she embodies. Filled with dynamic beauty and enthusiasm, she brings energetic gladness wherever she goes. I thought about the families she would meet at camp, greeted by her joy…and in an instant I glimpsed her life’s charge, to bloom deserts! That is, to impart rejoicing into weary hearts. Suddenly I didn’t feel like crying any more. I was gently renewed, my heart built up in the thoughts of flowers soon to blossom and the beauty of our daughter’s budding life. The pots all planted, I left crying in the onion bed for another day.

In this manner, I have come to see my commonplace suburban plot set against the backdrop of the Bible lands; the garden I keep is common ground between my daily life and the epic tales of truth and wisdom in God’s Word, making the choice “to view life through the eyes of hope” an easy one!

Photo Caption: © 2012 Shelley S. Cramm  Autumn crocus planted in pots bring Isaiah’s rejoicing! Isaiah 35:1-2 NIV

A portion of this blog was first published at www.gardenindelight.com/garden-gods-great-garden-stories/ on June 28, 2014.

For more on planting autumn crocus bulbs, see www.gardenindelight.com/plant-guide/autumn-crocus/

For more about her book, click here.