In Light of Paris

Alexander III bridge, Paris, France

This weekend, we watched in horror as the terrible news from Paris unfolded. It’s hard to understand how people could choose to cause such suffering and pain in the lives of others. Our prayers go out to the victims and their families, as we struggle to find ways to demonstrate our support for them.

There are certain Psalms I reflect on every Monday, and as I meditated on Psalm 34 I thought it was timely in light of the tragedies in Paris. God’s word is always a source of comfort, wisdom and strength, particularly in times of difficulties. Take a moment to reflect on these words written by David as he expounded on the hope of those who fear the Lord.

Psalm 34

I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.

21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

The Bible leads us to find our hope in God. When life seems overwhelming or out of control, call out to Jesus. He is our source of salvation, comfort and strength. He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. May you find your refuge in Him today.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the person who takes refuge in Him.” Verse 18

God Speaks to His People

 The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your county… to the land I will show you.” Genesis 12:1


God is not a silent god; He is a God who speaks.  In the Old Testament God spoke to His people through prophets.  Throughout the Old Testament we see that God spoke to His servants like Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Daniel, Isaiah and Jeremiah to name a few.  Sometimes He spoke directly to his people and other times through visions.  Does God still speak to His people today?

One of the foundational ways He speaks to us is through His written word, the Bible.  We learn who God is and how He wants us to live as we read His word.  He also speaks through that still small voice, His Spirit within us, gently convicting us to turn from sin and lovingly prompting us to follow His direction. Now we must be careful not to think that every thought we have is from Him.  We must test it against scripture. The more we get to know Him through scripture, the more we recognize His voice.

Just as God gave Abraham direction, so He guides and directs our lives. David wrote, “He guides me down the right path bringing honor to His name.’ In the New Testament, James reminds us that if we lack wisdom we should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault. God is always speaking. The question is, “Are we listening?” I want to be a good listener, don’t you?

Father, open our ears to hear and our hearts to understand.


This is an excerpt from Karol’s devotional, Pursuing God in the Quiet Places.

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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.” (

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


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 on June 28, 2014.

For more on planting autumn crocus bulbs, see

For more about her book, click here.

Relinquish Your Worries

from destin

Got any worries in your life right now? Whether it is the kids, the budget, the job or even the small stuff, each day is filled with opportunities to worry. It takes a deliberate effort to turn our thought patterns in a new and faith-filled direction. I like what Charles Spurgeon wrote about worry:

“Why do you worry? What possible use does your worrying serve? You are aboard such a large ship that you would be unable to steer even if your Captain placed you at the helm. You would never even be able to adjust the sails, yet you worry as if you were the captain or the helmsman of the vessel. Be quiet, dear soul – God is the Master!”

I like Spurgeon’s boat analogy. It reminds me that I’m not the one steering the ship – and what a relief that is! God is not only master, He is with us. I think about Jesus in the boat with the disciples as the wind and the waves overwhelmed their vessel. Jesus was with them the entire time, yet He allowed the storms to come to show that His power is greater than our storms.

Spurgeon went on to write:

“Do you think all the commotion and the uproar of this life is evidence that God has left His throne? He has not! His mighty steeds rush furiously ahead, and His chariots are the storms themselves. But the horses have bridles, and it is God who holds the reins, guiding the chariots as He wills!”

Our God is still the Master! Instead of trying to hold on to the worries, hold on to Him. Remember His unfailing love for you and listen to His voice that continually says, “Don’t be afraid”  (Matthew 14:27.