Unexpected Blessings

It was a Saturday morning, and I was being spontaneous. Rather than cooking breakfast, I had decided to surprise my family with donuts. So, I rolled out of bed, threw my probably unbrushed hair up, and drove to a local grocery store. Because it was early in the morning, I was betting on the fact that I wouldn’t see anyone I knew. In my rush to get back and present the donuts to my hungry boys, I hadn’t taken time to make myself look presentable. I hadn’t even brushed my teeth. This was going to be a fast mission: get in and out of the grocery store and back home to my hungry boys.

Yum! Saturday morning donuts!
Photo by Cecília Tommasini from Pexels

My mission was almost accomplished, when I noticed an older lady standing in front of me at the checkout line. Unfortunately, she seemed friendly and open to conversation. I purposefully did not make eye contact, hoping to avoid all opportunity for chatting. Then, I made the mistake of looking up. She jumped at the opportunity:

“That color looks lovely on you,” she said.

I cringed a little. There I was trying to be inconspicuous with my un-put-together self, and she had noticed me anyway. I responded, “Thank you.” From there we chatted about the contents of her grocery order. Then the conversation took a turn, as she shared that because her husband had dementia she rarely left the house, except to buy groceries.

In that moment, my priorities shifted. No longer feeling inconvenienced, my heart was full of compassion. These, as I have come to know them, are God-ordained moments. She was aching with loneliness and desperately in need of eye contact and conversation. Besides me, she might not get to talk to anyone else for the rest of the day. I spoke with her for a few more minutes as her groceries were being checked out, and then we parted ways. I prayed for her and thought about the encounter on the way home. Our conversation had blessed her, but I realized that it had also blessed me.

In focusing on my own agenda and my own self-consciousness about my state of disarray, I had almost missed a divine moment. The thing is, I probably miss them all the time. I’ll admit, I’m often distracted, thinking about other things, or looking at my phone. Then, sometimes, the Lord nudges me out of my own musings into an unexpected blessing.

Isn’t He merciful? He blesses us and equips us for every encounter He brings our way.

The encounter in the grocery store did not require an extensive resume of skill. Apparently, it didn’t even require great hygiene. It required time, eye contact, and the willingness to be present, even for a few moments. However, other opportunities the Lord brings our way may take more time, skill, and work. Regardless, the verse above promises that He blesses us abundantly and will, at all times, give us what we need to abound in the good works He has called us to do. Now, that is a reassuring promise!

Pause: Take a deep breath and find a comfortable position. Read over 2 Corinthians 9:8 (above) a few times. Maybe even read it aloud. What stands out to you about that verse?

Renew: Take a few moments to reflect on a time in your life that the Lord presented you with an opportunity, small or large, that turned out to be an unexpected blessing. How did He equip you and bless you through that opportunity?

Next: As you go throughout your day, pray that the Lord would give you eyes to see opportunities and blessings. Then, wait to see what happens as your day progresses. Write down any stories that unfold throughout the day.

May we have eyes to see the Lord’s unexpected blessings in our lives!

Pause, Renew, Next!

Steadfast Love: An Interview with Kristen Gordon

If you have ever found it difficult to “feel” God’s presence, then today’s episode will minister to you. It was my privilege to interview Kristen Gordon about her journey of faith. Kristen is candid and authentic about how she has struggled to feel God’s love and have enthusiasm in her faith. We talk about how experiencing disappointment shook her ability to trust, and conversely how support from others in the church gave her the freedom to be honest about her struggles.

Kristen shares how over time she has experienced pendulum swings in her faith, but in this season she is experiencing spiritual growth by spending consistent time in God’s Word. Through allowing Scripture to change her day by day, she is encountering and meditating on God’s steadfast love.

We also discuss how the Enneagram has been a very helpful tool in her life for discovering and accepting her own personality and identity. She has found that it has helped her have more compassion for herself, in marriage, and as a teacher.

During the episode, Kristen mentioned a particular Scripture that has been meaningful in her walk with the Lord:

And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,

Ezekiel 11:19 ESV

If this podcast episode resonates with you, please comment below or join the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Why Start a Podcast?

I’ll admit, starting a podcast is a unique and time-intensive hobby. Podcasting is not for the weak of heart. It requires time and commitment: time to line up interviews, time to sit down and record, time to edit content, time to write and publish show notes, and time to advertise and promote on social media. It is logical then to assume that there must be some underlying reason for pursuing this endeavor.

There certainly is! In fact, Pause, Renew, Next is in some ways like a “burning fire shut up in my bones.” I feel an inexplicable compulsion to pursue it. With that being stated, let me explain my vision and intention in producing the Pause, Renew, Next Podcast.

In my blog, I focus on three elements, for which PRN is named: Pause, Renew, Next.

  • Pause – pausing to allow our brains to be still and quiet from the constant outside noise and demands
  • Renew – spending time with the Lord, allowing His Word to transform and renew our minds
  • Next – putting our faith, knowledge, and transformation into action

There are certainly elements of all three of those themes in the podcast as well, but in the podcast I focus on them from the perspective of soul care and stories of faith. Here’s why:

As a counselor, I am privileged to sit with and hold people’s stories. I recognize that it is a gift to be entrusted with the elements of people’s lives, stories, thoughts, and faith journeys. (There’s something about the confidentiality of counseling that breeds trust and vulnerability!) Many of the stories I have been privileged to hear in my counseling office have been an encouragement to me as a listener.

In churches, in families, and in communities we can also benefit from sharing our faith stories with one another. Hearing other people’s struggles, questions, and faith journeys can help bolster us in our own walk with the Lord. It allows us to be more transparent about our weaknesses and doubts, knowing that we’re not alone. Unfortunately, not everyone is in a space where they feel safe or brave enough to share their own faith stories.

Through this podcast, I am thankful to be able to give a platform for Godly women to share their stories. Although each guest covers a different topic, there is a commonality that runs through each interview: vulnerability, passion, honesty, and a desire to share what the Lord is teaching them personally. There’s something about a real-life story that cuts through the “shoulds” and the shame that we could be doing better, to realize that we’re all humans doing the messy and hard work of this journey called faith.

Sure, there are other podcasts available in which women are able to share their stories. In fact, I listen to and enjoy some of those podcasts regularly myself. What sets PRN apart is that the women on this podcast are not necessarily well known or famous. Most of my guests have never and will never write a book or go on a speaking circuit, yet their knowledge and experience is just as valid as those who do have a more well-known platform from which to speak.

So, what is my vision for the PRN Podcast?

  1. To encourage those who are running the race of faith. The gate and path to Life is narrow. The journey requires endurance. Jesus calls us to pick up our cross and die to self, and that is hard work. Sometimes the race involves suffering, and we find ourselves no longer sprinting but limping instead. Hearing from others who are also running the race can be just the breath of fresh air we need to keep up our pace.
  2. To promote the importance of soul care. In our fast-paced society, we rarely take the time to care for our bodies and brains. Forget the soul – we’re just trying to survive! By implementing the practice of pausing, renewing, and applying our faith into a “next” step of action, we are taking time to care for all of the layers of the self: body, relationships, mind, and spirit.

To all of you who have supported PRN verbally or through social media, have been a guest on the podcast, have rated it on iTunes, given a positive review, or spread the word by sharing with others – Thank you! I so appreciate each and every one of you.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus!

Pause, Renew, Next!

Shine Like the Noonday: An Interview with Laura Leigh Moseley

It was my joy to kick off a new season of the PRN podcast with my friend and fellow Enneagram 2, Laura Leigh Moseley. She has many roles in life: saleswoman, wife, mom, teacher, and advocate, and we talk about all of these roles in this week’s podcast. Laura Leigh works as an ambassador for Noonday Collection, and in this episode she tells her story of becoming involved in issues of fair trade and social justice as well as the larger story of Noonday and its mission to fight global poverty.

My guest: Laura Leigh Moseley, Noonday Ambassador

During our conversation, Laura Leigh shares about a recent trip she took to Ecuador, in which she was able to meet some of the Noonday artisans. She talks about the impact of meeting the artisans face to face and highlights some of the stories behind the jewelry that she sells. We also take a deep dive into Enneagram territory, and Laura Leigh explains how learning more about the Enneagram and her own personality has given her a better understanding of herself, her marriage, and her calling.

In this episode, Laura Leigh mentions three books that have had an impact on her personally:

  • Radical by David Platt
  • Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ronald Sider
  • Generous Justice by Tim Keller

Off the air, she also recommends a few other resources that have influenced her and given her a better understanding of poverty and social justice:

  • Imperfect Courage – Jessica Honegger
  • When Helping Hurts – Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett
  • Just Mercy – Bryan Stevenson
  • Kisses from Katie – Katie Davis
This interview was so much fun! The Enneagram, social justice, Scripture – we talk about it all!

The name Noonday comes from Isaiah:

and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.

Isaiah 58:10 NIV

If you are interested in learning more about Noonday and want to peruse the jewelry and pieces they offer, you can check out their website at https://www.noondaycollection.com/ .

If this podcast episode resonates with you, feel free to share it with others, comment below, or join the community on PRN’s facebook page.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!