Choices, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, Family, God, Health, Perseverance, Relationships, Trust

The Power of Perseverance

“I didn’t think you were coming back,” the fitness instructor said when she saw me coming through the door. I can understand her comment, since after my first attempt in class I had whined about battling head-to-toe muscle aches for days afterwards. But despite feeling like I had been run over with a Mack truck after exercising, something in me said, “don’t quit after one try.”

thGVL9S49HThe morning the class rolled around again, I awoke to my radio playing the song “Stronger,” by Mandisa. The first words to reach my ears were, “The pain ain’t gonna last forever, and things can only get better; Believe me, this is gonna make you stronger.” Obviously she wasn’t singing specifically about my attempt at strengthening my muscles, but I smiled at God and considered it a wink of encouragement to pull on my stretch pants again that night.

My exercise teacher’s response made me think back a few years to my first day at a new job. I was introduced to a tiny but tough-looking woman who was retiring from the position I was filling.   Having been in the job for at least a millennium, she quickly conveyed the not-so-subtle message that no one could possibly fill her shoes – and that she fully expected me to fail miserably. Continue reading “The Power of Perseverance”

Choices, Christian, Contentment, Faith, God, Perseverance

Ten Reasons Why You’re Not Reading My Blog

th2YTBS36BIn July 2014 I embarked on a new adventure when I launched this blog, singledevotion. I vowed to give it a year and then reevaluate.  Well, that time is here.

When I began, I had a backlog of ideas and writing passion ready to burst forth onto the computer screen. As I wrote my first posts, it was like opening a floodgate on a dam . . . I was swept up in the euphoria of writing again, and ended up publishing practically every week for the first couple of months. I compared my feelings to that of Eric Liddle, the Olympian who said, “When I run, I feel His pleasure.”   I told one of my friends, “When I write, I feel God’s pleasure.” Friends who read my blog gave me lovely comments of encouragement, which spurred me on to keep writing.

Then reality set in. Readership began tapering off a bit. I also realized that working full-time, caring for an elderly father, and managing my own health challenges meant that I couldn’t sustain a break-neck pace of writing.  I re-grouped and set a more sane approach to my blog schedule in October (see The Tortoise Approach). Continue reading “Ten Reasons Why You’re Not Reading My Blog”

Christian, Contentment, Encouragement, Faith, Family, Fear, God, Loss, Love, Perseverance, Prayer, Relationships, Thankfulness, Trust

15 Things I Learned From My Dad

Janie & Dad -whip cream 1961

Following on the heels of “15 Things I Learned From My Mom,” I thought it was only fitting to devote a post to my father. This month not only marks Father’s Day, but my dad’s 93rd birthday. Here are just a few of the countless things he’s taught me:

1. Commit your heart to Jesus. My dad’s faith began forming when he was a young farm boy searching for a lost cow. As he went from field to field looking for the wayward beast, he eventually became disoriented and panicked. In that moment, dad asked God to help him, and instantaneously remembered that he could tell the direction home by looking at the sun. The seeds of faith sown that day on the prairie came to fruition at age 15 when a traveling evangelist came to town. When the altar call came, dad felt a burning in his heart to respond. “I practically ran to the front,” dad recalls. He says he knew that it was time to “get off the fence” and make a commitment to Christ. My father calls it the most important decision he’s ever made—and one he’s never regretted.

DAd - army
Baby-faced dad in WWII

2. Worrying is worthless. One of the hallmarks of my dad’s faith is how it dissolves fear. As a soldier in WWII, his fellow Army buddies asked him why he didn’t share their fear of dying on the battlefield. He responded, “My life is in God’s hands, and I know that if I die, I will go to heaven.” My dad has consistently turned to prayer during trying times, leaving the matters in God’s hands. He is famous for saying “we’ll take it one day at a time,” a philosophy that focuses on the present rather than fearing the future. Even now, when the frailties of old age could easily produce anxiety, dad often says, “I’ll sleep well tonight; I don’t have anything to worry about. What good would it do, anyway?”

Continue reading “15 Things I Learned From My Dad”

Christian, Contentment, Encouragement, Faith, Family, Grief, Loss, Love, Perseverance, Prayer, Relationships

15 Things I Learned From My Mom

17380_1241132102235_5613963_n[1]This time of year causes most of us to pause and think about motherhood. For me, Mother’s Day is a bittersweet time, not only because I’ve never had the privilege of being a mom, but because my own mother is in heaven. Her birthday always falls close to (and sometimes on) Mother’s Day, making May a month I find myself missing my sweet mama more intensely. But this time of year also provides a great opportunity to remember the tremendous influence she had on my life. In a spirit of celebration and gratefulness, here are fifteen things I learned from my mom.

1. Pray often. My mom believed in the power of prayer, and I am confident that her intercession helped make me who I am today.   Knowing that she continually prayed for me provided peace during many stressful moments. If I was taking a final exam, mom was praying. If I was struggling with a life decision, I knew she was joining with me in seeking God’s will.  I have no doubt her prayers for my safety kept me from many unseen calamities, and I  believe some of her requests are still being answered today.  Her example of “praying without ceasing” inspires me to do the same.

2. Value education.  As the eldest of 13 children in a farming family, my mom was forced to drop out of school in seventh grade. Even with little formal education and having to learn English as a second language, her aptitude to learn was obvious.  In her forties, she finally had the opportunity to obtain her G.E.D.  Although she never had the chance to pursue higher education, mom wanted all of her children to do so.  She was a key part of my education, teaching me to read by the time I entered kindergarten. She continued to encourage my education all the way through college, when she not only sacrificed financially, but even helped me study sometimes.  Perhaps it’s a fitting tribute to her that I work at a college today, helping others achieve their educational dreams. Continue reading “15 Things I Learned From My Mom”

Choices, Christian, Faith, Fear, Friendship, God, Perseverance, Trust

An Open Door for the Gospel

Profanity and raucous laughter shot through my bedroom floor. I prayed for relief from the noise downstairs. “Who is this neighbor, anyway?” I wondered.

The next day I sensed God nudging me to find out.  In the summer heat of southern Oregon, my neighbor had his front door open.  As I approached, the middle-aged man inside looked up from his TV set. A half-empty liquor bottle rested beside him.

“Hi,” I said cheerily through the screen door.

“Hello,” the man replied. “I’m Cole. You must be the gal who lives upstairs.”

“That’s right, I’m  Jane.  I’m working in the area this summer doing my college internship as a park ranger.”

As our conversation in the doorway progressed, Cole asked, “What do you like to read?”

“The Bible,” I ventured timidly. Cole’s eyes widened. “I want to talk with you about that sometime.”

My heart surged as I realized God was providing me with someone who was open to hearing about the good news of Jesus Christ.

But back in my apartment a cloud of doubt rushed in. I was no Biblical expert, and only three weeks remained before it was time to go back to college. How could I make a difference in such a short time? Continue reading “An Open Door for the Gospel”