Pause. Renew. Next.

Author: Ginny Detweiler

Soul-Care Reflections: Boundaries and Social Media

Today’s episode is a first! I’m talking about boundaries and social media on both the podcast and the blog today. Why? Because it’s an important topic, and it’s one that I find myself navigating constantly.

In this episode, I will list four boundaries that I am finding helpful for forming my own healthy relationship with social media. I hope you’ll find them helpful as well! To read the transcript of today’s episode, visit my blog at:

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Soul Care Practices: with Deni Huttula, LPCA, & Kate Wimberly, LPC

How does one practice healthy soul care? In the midst of our busy lives, caring for ourselves can often take a backseat. It was my joy to interview two of my colleagues, Deni Huttula, LPCA, and Kate Wimberly, LPC, to have a conversation all about soul care. As therapists, both Deni and Kate share their experiences of teaching soul care practices to their clients as well as ways that they incorporate it in their own lives.

Therapists Deni Huttula, LPCA, and Kate Wimberly, LPC, talk about self-care practices that they find helpful.

You will hear the terms self-care and soul-care interchangeably throughout the podcast. However, I love the term soul-care, because I think the phrase is more life-giving and all-encompassing. I define soul-care as integrating the care of our relationships, our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. I love the way Kate defines soul-care during the podcast interview: “it’s any healthy behavior that sets my soul on fire, that makes me feel alive, and I know my soul is nourished through it.”

During our conversation, Deni shared that body awareness is an important part of her own self-care. She specifically mentioned two resources that she often uses with her clients to help with regulation and mindfulness:

Both Kate and Deni discussed their favorite Scriptures during the podcast and explained why those particular passages minister to them personally. Kate shared that Joshua 10 is one of her favorite passages because, through the story of Joshua’s bold faith, she is being challenged in her own walk with the Lord. Deni’s favorite verse is reflective of her personality and our conversation about soul care:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

I loved this conversation, and I hope you came away from it with new encouragement and inspiration to better incorporate soul-care in your life. If anything from today’s episode resonated with you, please comment below, or join the community on PRN’s Facebook page.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

Pause, Renew, Next!

The Art of Losing: An Interview with Marti Ahlman

In this podcast episode my guest, Marti Ahlman, eloquently recounts her experiences of grief and loss. She shares how the Lord has provided for and sustained her through each loss: from losing material possessions, to the loss of her husband. As a retired English teacher, Marti appreciates fine literature, and she uses the poem, One Art, by Elizabeth Bishop to illustrate her experience.

Marti Ahlman wears many hats: Daughter, Caregiver, Mother, and Grandmother

Marti shares about how through each loss she has encountered, she found the Lord faithful to provide for everything she needed: from food, to clothes, to a place to live. She also talks about relationships in which she was cared for during seasons of loss.

In the episode, Marti expressed that one book she appreciates is Hinds Feet on High Places, because it makes sense of the different seasons of life. More than any other book, however, she has found the Bible to be the book that she returns to and meditates on.

Scripture passages that she mentions in this podcast include:

  • Psalm 23 – which became literal for her, walking through the valley of the shadow of death, and living beside still waters.
  • Philippians 3: 7-9 – counting everything as loss for the sake of Christ
  • John 15 – the painful pruning process of suffering and the fruit it produces
  • II Corinthians 4: 17 – affliction preparing us for an eternal weight of glory

If something you heard in today’s podcast resonated 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!

Thoughts, Thighs, and Toll Booths

You’re at a play date, listening to another mom tell stories about her child.  As you listen to all of her parenting accomplishments, you begin thinking, “Wow, she’s really got it all together.  Her kid is really succeeding and seems like he’s on the fast track for honors classes.  Am I doing something wrong?  My kid ate an earthworm last week.”  Suddenly, you’re hit with a blast of anxiety and insecurity that came seemingly out of the blue.

These thoughts are called ANTs – automatic negative thoughts.  We’ve all got them. They can come at any time, any day, and particularly when we are feeling vulnerable.  Granted, not everyone struggles with the same version of ANTs.  Maybe your negative thoughts are about your job or school performance, about your body, whether people like you, or maybe all of the above.

Our thoughts have real power.  What we think affects our bodies, our feelings, and our behavior, thus affecting our relationships.  Our thoughts affect our very brain structure in the form of neural pathways.  There are billions of neural pathways in our brains, being built and strengthened every day.  The more we think about a subject, thought, or memory, the more we are forming well-worn pathways in our brains.  As we practice new thoughts and habits, new pathways are formed.

A single negative thought may not be too detrimental, but consider what might happen if you continued to think that thought for days, weeks, or even years.

Imagine a 15 year old adolescent trying on a bathing suit at the mall.  She happens to notice (in that awful dressing room mirror and under that awful dressing room lighting) that she has cellulite on her thighs. “Oh no,” she thinks, “I can’t wear this kind of bathing suit.  I can’t believe how fat my thighs are.  I’m going to have to cover up somehow at the pool party this weekend.”  This experience has formed a memory and a little seed of shame, but otherwise her life is unaltered.

A one-time thought is like walking through the grass.  If you stroll though the grass one time, no one can tell you’ve been there.  But what if the girl continued thinking badly about herself for the next month, following new thigh slimming exercises on Pinterest, and researching how to achieve a thigh gap. Maybe she has started comparing herself to other girls at school or to pictures on Instagram.  

Dash walking through the flower beds

Now, a neural pathway is forming.  My dog walks the same path through my flower beds every day (don’t get me started on that).  He has worn away a little path.  I think this illustrates how thoughts can form pathways in our brains and in our behaviors.  The most traveled paths become the most well-worn and easiest paths for our thoughts to travel. 

Stop coming up ahead!

Now let’s imagine this girl grows up, gets married, and starts a family.  She is now 40 years old. What if those negative body image thoughts have continued for the past 25 years?  It would be safe to assume that these pathways are now super highways.  When it comes to negative thoughts, these superhighways inevitably lead to toll booths – where we begin to pay. Because she is ashamed of her body, perhaps intimacy with her husband has suffered. Maybe she won’t allow photos to be taken of herself when she is wearing shorts or a bathing suit.  Now her kids have no pictures of their mom from their last beach vacation.  Maybe she limits the kinds of foods she will let herself eat or the kinds of clothes she will wear.  Maybe she makes negative  comments about her body, and now her daughter has begun to think similar thoughts.  It’s a slippery slope, isn’t it?

How do we combat these thoughts?  Recognizing them is the first step.  Start paying attention to what you are thinking and choosing to believe.  If you notice there is a particular ANT that shows up frequently, you might prepare to do battle. Gain an arsenal of true statements that you can tell yourself when this thought shows up.  For example:

  • “My thighs have some of the largest muscles in my body, and they provide stability.”
  • “My husband loves my body, and I will try to love my body too”
  • “God made me in His image, and He loves me just the way I am.”

The hardest thing about fighting negative beliefs is that you believe them. Finding someone outside of yourself can be crucial to help discern what is true and what is faulty thinking.  Look for some good accountability and encouragement partners who can speak truth to you when your thoughts are getting the best of you.  Sometimes bouncing reality off of a trusted friend, mentor, family member, or counselor is a very healing thing.  For believers, Scripture is paramount in fighting negative thoughts.  God’s word is our ultimate source of truth.   Find verses that speak to what you are struggling with, and write them down in places where you will see them frequently.  

Spiritually, our thoughts are a real battle ground. Second Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take every thought captive to obey Christ.  The enemy would like nothing more than for us to believe and obey the ANTs, because he is the father of lies.  Let’s get ready to do battle and choose to believe what is true.

Pause: Close your eyes and take a deep breath.  Exhale slowly. Contemplate Romans 12:2 (in the picture below).  How does it speak to you?

Renew: Apply Romans 12:2 to your thought life.  What is a negative thought that has been coming to your mind frequently?  Ask the Lord to renew your mind regarding this thought, replacing it with what is true, good, acceptable, and perfect.

Romans 12:2

Next:  Spend the next few days examining your thought-life.  What are the ANTs that show up frequently?  Find Scripture verses that you can quote back to those thoughts when they come.  Make 3×5 cards of these verses that you can carry with you or put in the dashboard of your car as a reminder.  Get creative!

Learning to recognize truth and speaking it to ourselves is so powerful.  May the Lord help you discern what is true and pure and lovely, and may you meditate on those thoughts this week.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Rest? Yes please!

It happened in the midst of a crazy month, my sweet lesson on rest.  My husband and I had received a call from social services a couple of weeks prior asking if we would be foster parents to a baby girl who was currently in the NICU.   We prayed and said yes.   It was believed that she would be discharged from the hospital within the week and would be coming home with us.  Disappointingly, she didn’t leave the NICU right away like we had hoped.  Thus, I went into a holding pattern of parenting four children, while trying to find time to spend in the hospital bonding with my new foster daughter.  My emotions were raw and the questions remained unanswered: When would she be released to come home with us? How much time should I be spending with her in the NICU? How could I be in two places at once? The uncertainty went on and on.

One Sunday afternoon, midway through that month,  I was feeling overly emotional, stressed, and exhausted.  We had spent the morning at church and had eaten lunch with our extended family.  My kids were taking their afternoon nap and my husband was at home, so I knew this was my opportunity to spend time with my foster baby.  I lay down on the couch for just a minute, gathering the energy to get back in the van and drive to the hospital.  The next thing I knew, I had been asleep for an hour. As I awoke, I had the distinct impression that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me: “I give sleep to those I love, and you needed rest. She will still be at the hospital when you awake.”

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil:  for he gives to his beloved sleep.  Psalm 127:2 ESV

I had been going through the motions, feeling compelled to keep functioning past my exhaustion point.  I was aware that I was beyond tired, but the need of the moment felt too great to allow myself to rest.  The Lord sweetly reminded me that without rest, I could not do the hard things I was called to do.

Isn’t that the way of rest?  We all know we need it, but the many demands placed on us keep us from allowing ourselves to stop.  I’m not just referring to sleep;  I mean real rest.  We need time to disengage, allowing our batteries to be recharged.

Interestingly, we can only rest when we give ourselves permission to do so. God knew the intrinsic battle we would have against rest, so He gave us a Sabbath day and commanded that we take it.   We are designed to need rest, both physically and spiritually.

This weighted blanket is used in my counseling office to help with relaxation.  It provides deep pressure touch that simulates being held, which helps the central nervous system calm down.

Another barrier to being able to rest is stress and anxiety.  Both sleep and relaxation are vulnerable activities. The human body’s fight or flight system is designed to help us survive a real or perceived threat. When there is a threat, the last thing the mind wants to do is let down its guard and go unconscious. Thus, when we are afraid or stressed, it is very hard to rest.  

Feeling safe and loved is an important component to fighting anxiety, because we are designed to be in connection with others in times of stress.  Just as a small child runs to his parents’ room after a nightmare to seek comfort, so we can seek safety and peace from our Heavenly Father.  The Psalmist writes that God is a Comforter and a source of safety for us, so that we can sleep in peace.


PauseWhen is the last time that you felt really rested?  What were the elements that helped you feel at rest?  

Renew:  Think of a place that you feel safe, calm, and able to rest.   If you cannot physically go there now, imagine that you are there.  Use your senses – what do you hear, see, feel, and smell in that place? 

Next: Make a plan to set apart time for rest this week.  If one day is not possible, try a few hours, or one hour each day.  Make a plan to exclude those things that keep you from resting (phones, emails, chores) and make it a point to enjoy the absence of those distractions.  If sleep is what you really need, make a plan to take a nap during this time.

Like a toddler rebelling against the nap-time they so desperately need, we fight our need of rest.  In order to be energized and invigorated to carry out our passions and responsibilities, we must make time to be still.  May the Lord teach us more about how to rest, that He may replenish our souls and bodies.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Dirty Dishes and Sacred Moments

Motherhood is a gift, but many of the moments of motherhood are filled with mundane tasks, like managing sibling rivalry and cleaning up accidents.  In fact, just last evening, as a distraction from the chaos and noise of a day of schoolwork, I took my kids outside on a walk.  I was hoping for some energy release and fresh air.  By the time we had walked fifty feet down the driveway,  my potty-training three year old had an “accident”.  Just as quickly as it had begun, the walk was over.  Back we traipsed to the house to change clothes and take a bath.  The grandeur of the vision of mothering rarely matches up to the day to day experience.

Then, just in the midst of the mundane and the exhaustion, come unexpected, sacred moments with our children.

Sweet cuddles

When my youngest son was an infant, I spent countless hours feeding, rocking, cuddling, and patting his back.  One day, before his first birthday, I was patting his back after feeding him.  Unexpectedly, I realized that he was gently patting my shoulder to the same rhythm. This was a sacred moment in my mothering experience.  My youngest son is adopted.  In that moment, as we hugged and patted each other, I was confident that he knew fully that I was his mom.  His tiny hand and my big hand were comforting one another in unison.

All mothers experience sacred moments in their parenting journeys, but how much more must Mary, the mother of Jesus, have felt these emotions? She witnessed miracle after miracle as she raised her son: from the announcement of her upcoming pregnancy by the angel Gabriel, to His resurrection and ascension.  In the second chapter of Luke, on two separate occasions, Scripture says that Mary “treasured these things and pondered them in her heart.”

After the shepherds came to see baby Jesus, Luke documents that they spread the word about all that they had seen and heard.  I picture their great excitement and jubilation, stopping everyone to proclaim the news.  Contrast this with Mary’s reaction:  

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  Luke 2:19 ESV

As an extrovert, I struggle in the treasuring and pondering department.  I’m more like one of the shepherds, running around broadcasting my thoughts to whoever will listen.  Certainly, there is a time for shouting things from the rooftops, but I can stand to learn from Mary’s example.  Some moments and experiences are so sacred, they deserve to be marveled over and  held closely.

Mary serves as a sweet and holy reminder of the importance of motherhood. We are witnesses of the miracles of our children.  No, we were not given the responsibility of raising the Savior like she was.  Still, made in the image of God, each of our babies are miracles and signatures of the Divine.  

The precious hands of our family

As mothers we are given a unique perspective on the unfolding of who our children are and who they will become.  We’re awarded a first class ticket to watch them grow and mature.  When they are in awe of a new discovery, they come to us.  When they are hurt and need comfort, they come to us.  What a privilege!

Pause: Quiet your mind and your body.  Think of a sacred moment you have experienced.  Remember how you felt in that moment.

Renew: Although this post was about motherhood, there are also sacred moments in our walks with Jesus.  Meditate on one of these experiences  in your own faith journey. How did you treasure that moment?  Did you write it down, pray about it, share it with a friend, or keep it to yourself?  

Next: The mundane and tiresome moments often drown out moments that could be found sacred if we shift our perspective.  Today, look for moments that you can treasure in your heart and take time to savor them. This can be done anytime: in the midst of chores, while exercising, or while driving down the road.

No matter the season of motherhood in which we find ourselves: the all-nighters with a newborn, the trials of toilet training, or the turbulence of the teenage years, may we learn to treasure the sacred moments.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Rocks, Rivers, and Remembrance

I have an excellent memory.  Well, I should amend that.  I used to have an excellent memory before I had children.  Now, I have the long-term memory of an elephant and the short-term memory of a distracted squirrel.  Motherhood will do that to the best of us. Interestingly, memories don’t remain static; they become incorporated into our life story.  Our strongest memories are usually not of the mundane moments of life.  Instead, they’re of the important, emotion-soaked memories.

It’s the important moments in life that we try to remember: weddings, babies, first days of school, first dates, and anniversaries.  We celebrate with ceremonies, photo albums, favorite songs, and parties.  Marriages are celebrated with anniversaries, year after year.  A marriage would be in real trouble during stressful stages if the couple could not remember the good memories they had built together.  

The same is true in our faith journeys.  Walking with the Lord takes us through valleys and mountains, and we build memories along the way.  Being able to remember moments of the Lord’s faithfulness during spiritual drought is a lifeline for maintaining faith.

Rocks of remembrance

An incredible illustration of this is found in Joshua 4. The children of Israel, ex-slaves and desert-wanderers of forty years, are poised to finally take the Promised Land.  Just before they move into the territory of Jericho, the Lord leads them through the Jordan River: not by boat, but through the dry river bed.  The Lord commands the Jordan River, which was flowing at flood stage, to stop and amass into a heap upstream.  The Israelites walk unscathed across the river bed to the other side. While they are passing through, Joshua commands one man from each tribe to pick up a stone from the dry river bed.  After they have left the Jordan River behind, and have reached the eastern border of Jericho, Joshua tells them to set up the stones on the ground as a memorial.

He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ Joshua 4:21-22 NIV

Now this body of people had been raised on the stories of crossing the Red Sea. They listened to the tale countless times as they ate manna in the wilderness. The time had finally come for them to take their Promised Land, but first the Lord replicates His miracle for them: taking them out of the land of slavery (through the water) and into the promised land (again through the water.) There were no selfies or Instagram feeds in B.C.E. to help document the event. They had two primary ways to pass this story on to future generations – word of mouth and a memorial made with stones.

Just like the Israelites, when I am in crisis, it’s difficult to remember the faithfulness of the Lord.  I need to be reminded. Remembering the ways that the Lord has loved me and led me through trials is a key reminder that He will never leave me or forsake me. Suffice it to say that when believers are struggling, the last thing the enemy wants us to remember is how the Lord has been faithful.  

Taking time to remind our souls of how God has cared for us, answered prayers, and loved us in the past is an incredible weapon against discouragement in the present.

Pause: Be still and meditate, or take a walk and enjoy nature while you consider the times in your life that the Lord has been faithful to you and your family.  Thank and praise Him for what He has done.

Renew: Read Psalm 77, reflecting on David’s call for help and his change of tone as he recites how God has been faithful to Israel.  What stands out to you in this passage?

Next:  Consider journaling important life events and key moments in your faith journey.  If you do not normally share these stories with your friends and family, consider telling them at meals and gatherings. After all, our faith stories create a legacy for our children and can encourage and challenge others.

May you be encouraged as you remember the Lord’s goodness to you.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Learning to Wait

To wait: to remain stationary in readiness or expectation, to look forward, expectantly, to be ready and available

Psalm 130:5 NIV

Waiting is no fun, unless you know a good surprise is coming.  Even then it’s really difficult, isn’t it? Waiting for the small things in life is a nuisance:  for your favorite show to start, for the work day to be over, for the waiter to serve your food.  Waiting for the bigger things in life can be nerve wracking: planning for a wedding, finishing a college degree, or waiting nine months for a baby to be born. All of these times of waiting have one thing in common: the knowledge that something good is on its way.

How then does waiting change when we’re not guaranteed a reward or a happy ending?  This form of waiting requires hope and faith, and that is no easy task!

I have spent the last six years learning about waiting. due to our foster care and adoption journey as well as experiencing ongoing health issues.  I know of many people who could speak to the topic of waiting better than I.  Six years of discomfort is nothing compared to the 51 years that Joni Eareckson Tada has spent in a wheelchair.  Noah spent 100 years building an ark, believing in faith that the rain would come.  Then there was David, the Psalmist, who waited much of his life: first to be saved from his enemies and then to finally be crowned King.  The Psalms are full of verses about waiting.

Waiting is just tough all the way around. However, during the interim a lot is happening,  because while we wait life keeps moving.  At first our response to waiting is an attitude of expectation, but then we become frustrated as the answers do not come.  This frustration may soon dissolve into doubt. After all “hope deferred makes the heart sick.”  (Proverbs 13:12a)

There is a helplessness in the waiting, but in this helplessness we learn humility, the extent of our own ability, and our ever-needed dependency on the Lord.  We can feel His comfort in greater measures. What, then, besides comfort, are the benefits of having to wait on the hard things?

Patience.  Patience is a fruit of the spirit, but it is not an attribute that comes naturally.  It certainly takes refinement to produce this fruit.  After all, in our culture, we can have practically anything delivered to our doorsteps in two days or less (thank you, Amazon Prime).  Everything is instant. The problem is that immediacy does not grow character, and character is hard-won. Patience is defined as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay or suffering without getting angry.  It is in places of waiting that the Lord helps us learn the gift of patience.

Endurance.  Have you ever watched the track events at the Olympics?  The sprinting events are so exciting and powerful!  By contrast, the marathon is slow and methodical.  It takes more time – more sustained effort – to watch and to run. Even the athletes’ bodies look different. Sprinters are thick with muscle, full of power, while marathon runners are thin, with long, lean muscles. They have conditioned their bodies to sustain the long-distance effort.  Unfortunately, the Christian life is not a sprint full of power.  It is a long race full of endurance.  It’s in the seasons of waiting, where we seemingly can’t escape, that the Lord sharpens our resolve, teaching us how to pace ourselves and breathe.  He conditions us so that we can make it through the long race ahead.

Listening.  When we tire of crying out for help and beating the air in frustration, we get quiet enough to listen. What is God speaking in the waiting place?  His still, small voice is often quite active during the lulls in our lives.

Pause: Sit quietly and take a deep breath.  Contemplate one area of your life that you are currently waiting and pray about it.  Be attentive to what the Lord may be speaking to you.

Renew: Reflect on a time in your life when you had to wait.  What did you learn during that season?  How did it refine your character?

Next: Pray for someone in your life that you know is currently waiting.  Think of a way that you can offer them encouragement this week.

May we all learn patience, practice endurance, and attune our hearing during our seasons of waiting.

Pause, Renew, Next!

Apples, Field Trips, and Pruning Tips

This week three of my children and I ushered in the fall season by taking a field trip with our homeschool co-op to an apple orchard. All of the kids and adults had great fun, particularly during the apple and cider tasting!  The last part of our tour included a tractor-pulled wagon ride: all the fun of a hay ride without the scratchy hay! (Added bonus: My three year old was in a particularly cuddly mood and wanted me to hold him in my lap for the whole ride!)

We were pulled through rows and rows of apple trees, up to the top of the orchard.  When he had reached a good vantage point, the farmer stopped the tractor and taught us pertinent facts about growing and maintaining apple trees.  When he began to teach about pruning, my ears perked up, because we own a plum tree.  I was interested to gain any tips.  I made a mental note to come home and teach my husband what I had learned.
The farmer informed us that there are two main objectives to pruning apple trees:

  1. Take all underlying branches which are growing downward, and turn them upward
  2. Prune all vertical growth

As I listened to his advice, I realized that these pruning tips mirror spiritual principles that Jesus taught his disciples:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15: 1-2  NIV

If the heavenly Father is the gardener, Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches, then the pruning Jesus is describing is about us!  Ouch!  How then can these pruning tips be translated into spiritual truths that apply to our lives?

Take all underlying branches hanging downward and face them upward.  

What is the purpose in changing the direction of these downward facing branches?  The branches will grow stronger this way as they mature and will be able to withstand more pressure without breaking.  Low lying branches will bend to the ground as they grow heavy with fruit, and this can cause the fruit to rot.   Also, what branches wouldn’t want more sunlight?  Up is always best!

How does this apply to our lives?  As the Gardener realigns our branches in the Vine, He is strengthening us, making us better able to withstand greater loads.  He is maturing us to hold more fruit without breaking.  He is keeping us from dragging to the ground and constantly realigning us towards His light.

 Prune all vertical growth.

Why would a gardener cut off the vertical growth?  These are the new shoots that the tree has produced this year.  The new growth shoots upward, reaching for the sky.  Apple trees put a lot of effort and energy into this new growth.  Farmers purposely prune that growth, because the tree’s energy is going towards the new vertical growth, which takes away from its fruit-producing energy.

How does this principle apply in a believer’s life?  The Gardener knows just what He is trying to achieve in our lives when He is pruning, even when it appears He is pruning the new, healthy growth on our vine.  He is trying to achieve the ultimate harvest of fruit for His kingdom.

Ironically, an apple tree’s whole objective in life is to achieve its purpose: producing apples.  However, on its own, an apple tree can’t figure out where it should expend its energy to best achieve its objective.  While it’s busy growing random branches as fast as it can, it’s losing energy towards its very purpose – growing apples!  Doesn’t this sound familiar?  I’ll be honest, this is one area of my life with which I struggle – discerning where to place my energy, time, and resources.  How thankful I am for a Gardener who can see past the present circumstances, to the harvest He wants to produce in our lives!

Pause:  When you have a few quiet minutes, read John 15:1-11.  What verses stand out to you?

Renew:  Ponder/Journal/Pray: When are the times in your life that you’ve felt the Lord pruning you?  Was it a painful process?  Have you been able to see the fruit in your life, or are you still waiting to see the results?  Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t yet seen the fruit – it might still be growing.

Next:  Make a list this week of your priorities and responsibilities.  Where are you spending your time and energy?  Pray about which of these the Lord would have you spend less time and energy (vertical shoots) and which areas He would rather you prioritize.

May we grow some beautiful fruit for the harvest!

Pause, Renew, Next!

The Birth of a Blog

How does one begin a blog?  I have so many fantastic ideas burgeoning for future posts, just waiting to be written.  However, when it was time to begin this post I found myself in a quandary.  Where to start?   My husband sensibly suggested that I share what led me to begin a blog.  That seemed a reasonable idea.   So, this is the story of how PRN came to be.

Recently, I was thinking about starting an Etsy store.   Last spring I was absorbed in thoughts of selling my vegetables at a Farmer’s Market.    I frequently come up with ideas like these, as I am a rather impulsive person.  Usually, these ideas wither on the vine rather quickly once I’ve considered the logistics (for instance, without Pinterest I cannot craft…bye-bye, Etsy).

Pause – be still; Renew -meditate and find perspective; Next – put it into action

This week I was inspired to start a blog.  I thought to myself, “I may not be gifted as a crafter, but I am gifted in the areas of feelings and words.”  Would this be one more random idea that I concoct only to quickly fizzle?  There are so many blogs out there already!  What can I offer that is different than other blogs?  Is there a reason to make one more webpage for people to scroll through?  I began to pray and ask that if the blog was God’s will that He would lead and guide me, giving me ideas and allowing the blog to prosper.   I considered it from all angles, with growing excitement.  Within a few hours, I had a name: PRN: Pause, Renew, Next.

Immediately, I knew my target audience: women of all ages, the same population I serve as a counselor.  What the average woman needs more than anything is rest, renewal, and encouragement (and of course lots of hugs and baby snuggles, but I can’t provide those essentials on this blog).

The format of each post will consist of varying subject matters, but at the end of each post there will be three sections listed: Pause, Renew, Next.  These sections will encourage the reader to absorb, engage, and act out the subject material.  As a counselor, I’ve learned that if my clients are not given homework, there is a good chance they will forget what was discussed during the session.  So it is with digital interactions.

I recently listened to Brené Brown speak in  Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice.  Her research demonstrates that the way to help people transfer information from their heads to their hearts is through their hands: in other words, through behavior and action!  In this way, my blog is designed to minister to the head and the heart, as well as provide an action step.  That’s where lasting change occurs!

Please know, it’s up to you how many of the exercises you want to engage in. Do as much or as little as you like.  In this blog, I’m focusing on the pause verse, Psalm 46:10.  Let’s give it a go, shall we?

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”  Psalm 46:10 NIV

Pause:  Breathe deeply.  Read the above verse to yourself a few times.

Renew:   Try to really be still.  Is it difficult for you?  Is it hard in your body or in your mind?  Close your eyes and think about a place that you feel peaceful and imagine trying to be still in that place.   Now meditate (concentrate deeply) for a few moments on knowing the God that is exalted among the nations.

Next:  Write down this verse and carry it around with you this week, or open your Bible and read it once each day.  Try to carve out a few minutes each day to really allow your body and mind to be still and focus on who God is.  Can you try one more minute each day?  1 minute the first day, 2 minutes the second day, etc?

And that’s it!  Not too hard, right?  This was a simple exercise, but by choosing to meditate on Scripture, you not only spent time with the Lord, but also made a positive impact on your emotions and your health.

I look forward to continuing this journey together!

Pause, Renew, Next!


© 2021 PRN

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑