Puzzle Pieces

Romans 8:28 has always been one of my favorite verses. When I was young, I believed I understood the meaning. It was pretty straight forward, right? All things work together to make good things, happy things, happen in life. I believed that circumstances will eventually work out exactly the way I want, so long as I loved God, did the right things, was basically a good person. Right?

I kinda didn’t think about the last part of the verse…the “called according to His purpose part.” Yes- I now realize the naivety of that interpretation! 🤦‍♀️ 

Life hits and hits hard at times.

I learned that it definitely did not always turn out the way I wanted it to. Thankfully I have learned and continue to learn that our circumstances will turn out the way God wants if we allow Him to work in our life. Ultimately it will be in our best interest for His purpose. 

God often uses the very things that are our weaknesses, struggles, and pain to achieve that.

It never crossed my mind as a college student that disability would ever be a part of my personal life. When I was in college, I knew one thing for sure, I did not like working with individuals with autism. They actually scared me. I was a speech-pathology major who quite honestly did not enjoy working with those with severe disabilities. I wanted to work with those cute little kids who couldn’t say their “r” or had a little lisp. 

One semester, when I was in graduate school, I had a huge probably 300 pound adult patient with autism. It honestly made my knees knock every time I had to work with him. He loved Neil Diamond. All he wanted to do was listen to his Neil Diamond cassette tapes on his hand held tape recorder and so that is just what we did during his speech therapy sessions! I definitely tried to work on speech goals/life skills with him, but he was easily agitated. I remember sweating bullets, thinking, if he decides to kill me, how long would it take for someone to find me!?! Everything was good so long as he got to listen to his music, which we did…a lot! 

Over the course of time and working with articulation and language disorders and those with a variety of other disabilities, I decided autism was the hardest one to deal with! At least to me. 

I definitely didn’t want to deal with all that.

God has a sense of humor doesn’t He? 😂

After having a child with severe autism for over 9 years now, I think maybe I’ve warmed up to it!  Actually now I feel a sense of connection to all those with any disability and their families. I feel compassion and empathy on a level that I would have never known had God not added Landon to our family.  

Am I saying that life is easy now? 

No way! If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I have some challenges in dealing with my son’s disability. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Some days the autistic behaviors (aggressive outbursts, bites, hits, kicks, and scratches) leave me in tears and concerns for the future.  I truly appreciate the encouragement, support, help, and prayers I’ve received along this journey. God truly has a plan and a purpose for it all along and in the last 6 months or so, God has allowed me to see the very beginnings of the next part of His plan. I’m beginning to see those very first pieces of the puzzle come together.

So for the last nine years, maybe I didn’t see how Landon’s autism, my speech therapy background, and all that went along with it would really benefit anyone or anything. I started writing this blog about 4.5 years ago to encourage others in their difficulties and I’ve had some awesome feedback. My prayer has always been for God to use the writing, and my experiences to encourage others. But if I’m totally honest there were times I felt like there had to be more than being an autism mama warrior. I’ve always felt in my spirit I was supposed to be doing something more.  I love to write and encourage others, but there seemed to be something else I was supposed to do. I just couldn’t figure out what the missing piece was.

Things sometimes get a lot worse before they get better, don’t they? That’s honestly where I was about 6-7 months ago. Not much seemed to be going right in several areas of my life.

A few years ago, a speech-language pathologist in the area saw me in SAMS and asked me to come work for her in Early Intervention (EI serves babies from age 0-3.) At that time, I was totally swamped with dealing with Landon’s behavior and medication issues as well as full-time homeschooling my two older kids so I declined her offer. 

About 6 months ago, as I said, I was really going through a trying time with several issues, and this particular lady came to my mind. I felt like I should message her and see if she needed any help with speech therapy in early intervention. Crazy, right? Despite the struggles going on in my life, I felt the nudge to do this. Message her. Reach out to her and see what she says. I thought to myself, “this is crazy, I’m sure she doesn’t need help at this point.”

So I did it.

I sent her a message. 

I didn’t even have her phone number so I just sent her a message through Messenger.

She responded in a couple of days.

“YES” was her response.

She told me she would still love to have me come work for her. She said she never found the right person to be on her team.

I realized right then that I wanted to do this. 

I immediately told her that I have a pretty full schedule still with homeschool and mommy duties I would only be able to work a few hours here and there. 

She said “You can work as little or as much as you want.”

“You can set your own schedule and hours.”

She then asks, “How much would I have to pay you to get you to come work for me?”

I’m thinking, “hold up.”

“You want to hire me- someone who hasn’t worked in speech therapy for 17 years- (although I had maintained my certification) and let me decide my hours as few or much as I want-and pay me well for it?!?”

“And would I happen to be interested in working with babies with autism and their caregivers (as well as other disabilities)?”

“Yes, I’d love to work with babies with autism and their families.”

(The organization she contracts with receives speech therapy referrals for babies from birth to three-years-old in need of early intervention.)


“God, I’m in shock.” I said out loud later on that day. “I might be catching a glimpse of your plan and purpose now.”

It isn’t just about me. 

It’s about others. 

Others who I can relate to and understand now because of my own experiences with disability. 

I began seeing some speech therapy babies and their families in August. 

I’m excited for the opportunity to serve in this way. 

In every patient, 

in every family member, 

I’ll see a glimpse of Landon, 

a glimpse of my family, 

a glimpse of God’s plan, 

a picture of other image bearers of God. 

I am seeing the first little pieces of the puzzle fitting together. 

This is something God had planned all along. 

I’m familiar with sensory issues, behavioral therapy, many medications and their good and bad side effects, natural supplements, bone-weary caregiving, the effects of a disability on other family members, self-care, spiritual growth, and prayer just to name a few. 

Am I saying I have it all figured out? 

No, of course not.

But I understand more than I ever did when I was a kid in college. Hopefully in a few years I’ll know so much more than I do now. 

I understand Romans 8:28 better now, it just took me a little while to get there. 🙂

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.

~Romans 8:28 (NLT)

Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.’

~Matthew 25:40 (The Message)

Your friend,


Above and Beyond

As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. 

~Proverbs 27:19

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

       ~ Matthew 6:21

I just love “above and beyond” people.    An example for me is my son’s psychiatry nurse practitioner. She always answers my questions, works with Landon’s complex issues, brainstorms with me about new things we can try, prescribes his medication and changes his medicine if needed. We’ve worked with her for the last 4 years or so. She answers my questions promptly and actually cares about Landon. She never gives up on him. She is getting another job soon and will be so missed! I’ll always remember how she worked tirelessly for Landon even when some doctors wouldn’t and told us so.

Other amazing people immediately come to my mind who I know either as a teacher, nurse, friend, doctor, pastor, etc. and it isn’t a super long list. They care and do what they do with excellence. They really shine especially when they move, leave, retire, etc. and are replaced by those who don’t seem to care as much and sort of half-heartedly do things.

It’s hard not to compare, but I like to think of how much more this makes me appreciate the “above and beyond” people.

Those who put their whole heart in.

Those are my people.

They always will be.


Your friend,


Mesmerizing Music

Today is my Sunday to keep Landon. My husband and I take turns going to church with our other kids so we each get the chance to go. Landon’s behaviors make it very difficult for him to sit in a service for very long. Thanks to technology, we have the ability to watch online.

While I was watching/listening to the praise and worship part of the service today, I remembered a praise and worship artist I recently discovered while listening to Pandora the other day. I absolutely love music as it seems to touch parts of the soul in a way that nothing else can. Beautiful, truth-filled lyrics combined with mesmerizing sounds produce this undefinable almost magical quality to me. Some songs just seem to draw me into them and keep me there for awhile. Anyway, I love discovering new to me worship artists, so I wanted to share. I encourage you to check out Jervis Campbell. I originally heard his song Friend on Pandora, then heard Let You Love Me. After that, I was hooked. 😊 Then I searched on YouTube and listened to Eden and Hold Me Together.

Here are the lyrics to Eden. Hope your day is blessed and beautiful.

Your friend,


Written by Jervis Campbell
Born and raised in the darkness still my soul did sing out
of a hope that brought tomorrow Of a love that covered me
And the times I felt the farthest Still your love did cling
Oh by faith my feet were grounded Couldn’t fight your gravity
You’re the bones inside my body
You’re the fire that fills my lungs You’re the reason I’m still standing You’re the strength to carry on
And I wanna know you like it were Eden Like its only the two of us
Oh I wanna walk among your presence
I want to feel your faultless love
So take me out from the harbor And by your light you lead, oh I wanna go to your still waters I wanna sail your silver sea
And I know this life it gets harder But as long as it’s you and me Oh I wanna go in full abandon
I wanna give you everything
I just want to feel it Your faultless love

Mental Health Perceptions- Part 3

I often feel very grateful to God that I have undergone fearful depression. I know the borders of despair and the horrible brink of that gulf of darkness into which my feet have almost gone. But hundreds of times I have been able to give a helpful grip to brethren and sisters who have come into that same condition, which grip I could never have given if I had not known their deep despondency.

~Charles Spurgeon

A tendency to melancholy let it be observed, is a misfortune, not a fault.

~Abraham Lincoln

Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.

~C.S. Lewis

My last point, but definitely not least, from my thoughts on mental health is the idea that if a person deals with a mental illness it is:

3. An indication that the individual has a spiritual problem or not enough faith.

I have actually heard sermons and been in church services which indicated that those who were depressed or suffered from anxiety had a “spirit” of depression or anxiety. To me this type of statement seems to indicate that the illness was somehow due to a weakened spiritual state of the person. That the person had a choice in allowing some type of mental illness in occurring. The implication being that the mental illness would not have happened if the person would have been praying enough, reading the Bible enough, attending church enough, thinking of others first, etc.

Of course this line of thinking is incredibly flawed! It’s like saying a person has a “spirit of cancer or a spirit of a broken leg.” This sounds absolutely ludicrous….because it is!

Now is it possible for a person with a mental illness to not know God or need to grow spiritually? Certainly, we are all made up of a body, soul, spirit and all three are interconnected and impact the others. However, there may also be room for spiritual growth in someone who is overweight, has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc., too! Just saying. So automatically putting those who have mental illnesses in a category of “not having enough faith,” not having a relationship with God, etc. is a false notion. Other types of illnesses are not usually labeled/categorized the way mental illnesses can be by some in the church. 

Those within the church or religious groups are most certainly not called to make this type of judgment about others. At most, Christians are called to examine spiritual fruit in others. Do they show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? They honestly might! And maybe, just maybe, if the spiritual fruit isn’t there, it could be because the tree (or the person) needs to be nurtured and restored to health! Also, no one is perfect! We all have weaknesses God has to help us with. Just some thoughts here…

Some of the greatest Christian leaders of all time suffered from depression. Mother Teresa, C.S. Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, and Abraham Lincoln are a few that come to mind. Were those individuals less than others because they carried the burden of a mental illness? I believe they were even more amazing because of it. The determination, strength, perseverance, depth of character, profound ability to love and empathize with others are just a tip of the iceberg in what made these individuals incredible. They were awesome not just in spite of, but because of their illness. Their weakness became their strength.  To be sick and still shine, to lead, to love like they did, makes them seem like superheroes to me.

And to question whether or not they were close to God or had enough faith seems ridiculous. The fruit of the spirit in their life shows that. The fact that they persevered through life’s ups and downs despite the difficulties, is nothing short of amazing! God was definitely at work in the life of each of these individuals.

I guess this wraps up the thoughts I wanted to share on mental health perceptions. This topic is definitely something I feel pretty passionately about. One reason is due to the number of suicides I have personally known about. It breaks my heart that those who were struggling did not for whatever reason have the emotional/psychological support that they needed. It makes me sad to think it may have been because of a stigma that they didn’t reach out for help or others didn’t reach out to the person struggling. It is surprising and awful to me to hear it said “we didn’t know they were going through anything” or “if only someone knew.” 

The stigma of mental illness needs to change. Mental illness is most definitely not an implication of an individual’s lack of faith. If anything, illness of any kind should cause those of faith to reach out, to be of service, and to offer compassion and love. We are called to love others as Christ did.

The people with very hard problems are understood by God. He knows what wretched machines they are trying to drive. Some day he will fling them away and give those people new ones; then they may astonish everyone, for they learned their driving in a hard school. Some of the last will be first and some of the first will be last.

~C.S. Lewis


Your friend,



Life is moving so fast it’s hard to keep up lately. I’m so thankful that we are over all the sickness at our house, but ready or not life is at full throttle now. With co-op/homeschool classes for the oldest child, homeschool for the middle one, and the youngest in public school, (not to mention 2 dogs, the husband’s busy work schedule, and basic day to day stuff) it can be a wild ride! 

Unfortunately, lately Landon (our child with autism), has had some setbacks. His aggression at school is ramping up despite taking a combination of five different medications. It has taken us literally years and suffering through multiple trial and error attempts to get the right combination of meds that help him the most. Unfortunately, his symptoms and behaviors are curbed only for a short time before he grows, his body becomes accustomed to the meds, and things have to be tweaked or changed completely. 

I really can’t adequately describe the helpless feeling I have when I get a note home about him hitting other students and teachers, having multiple crying spells, not staying dressed due to his sensory issues, etc. I don’t know what to do other than reach out to his doctor, make her aware of the situation and pray. At home he is not necessarily aggressive, but extremely hyperactive. To me, it seems the hyperactivity and sensory issues are what cause him to hit, etc., it isn’t necessarily anger. Those factors combined with the fact that he is primarily non-verbal contribute to his difficult behaviors….and boy are they seriously difficult!

I don’t remember what it feels like not to be bone tired. I wake up tired, push through the day tired, and go to bed exhausted. Despite all of this, I like to find the good in each day and consciously remind myself that God sees it all and is in control.

Friend, if you are struggling with an extremely hard situation, please know that you are not alone in your circumstances whatever they may be. Let this be your reminder that God sees you and is with you. He is reaching down to you and is aware of everything going on in your life. He has the hairs on your head numbered and promises to work all things for your good. The setbacks aren’t forever even if it feels that way. I truly believe God has a plan and purpose for everything in life. However, I know how hard it can be to find the positive parts of life when it feels like wave after wave of negatives come crashing in. So today, I chose to think about some positives instead of worrying about the not so good aspects. Here are a few pics of “good” from the last few days.  What are the positive snapshots from your life lately?


Your friend,


Inspirational Quotes

I ran across the following this morning from Inspiring Quotes and it really spoke to me. Then I backtracked and found some other cool quotes. 😊 Hope you enjoy! Blessings.

Your friend,


An often overlooked English poet of the mid-19th century, Sarah Williams is best known for her poem “The Old Astronomer,” in which a dying astronomer offers his last words to his student. Grappling with mortality is a prominent theme in Williams’ writing, and in particular this poem, which she wrote while battling cancer not long before her own death. In this line from the poem, she urges us to value the bright spots in our lives, and to make peace — however we each can — with the impermanent nature of living.

My January Tree

I posted a few days ago about ”The Year-Round Christmas Club” and just wanted to share my “January” tree. We have had a number of viruses spread through our house since November. That combined with seemingly unending ”gray days” along with the reminder to be a light for Jesus, nudged me into keeping my tree up all year! 😊 In February I’ll post my Valentine tree ❤️❤️❤️🥰.

Your friend,


Talk As You Walk

The following is an excerpt taken from Bible In One Year 2020, Nicky Gumble, You  Version Bible App. It resonated with me because so often I forget communing with God is easy and enjoyable. Sometimes I forget that He loves me, imperfections and all. Just as we long to be around those we love, God simply longs to be with us. Many times in the past, I’ve experienced a feeling of condemnation or that I was never living up to all God expected of me.  I pray you experience God’s true love minus any condemnation/negativity you may have felt in the past from religious experiences or other sources. You are totally loved just as you are!

Your friend,


Talk As You Walk

I love walking. Apparently, it is one of the best forms of physical exercise. Of course, walking is also a means, and for some people their only means, of transport.

Walking for whatever reason is more enjoyable with someone else. Walking and talking is a great way to communicate with family, friends and also with God.

The point is that we are doing two things at the same time. We are not just taking exercise or travelling. As we walk together we are in communion with one another. Both Enoch and Noah ‘walked with God’ (Genesis 5:24; 6:9). They didn’t just sit, kneel or stand with God (the kind of actions we would often associate with spending time with God), but they were also in communion with God when doing something else. While you are doing other things – working, eating, exercising or relaxing – you can be in communion with God at the same time.

Psalm 3:1-8

Walk with your head held high

Matthew 2:19-3:17

Walk in step with the Holy Spirit

  • The Holy Spirit will come like a refining fire to bring power and purity in your life.
  • Be filled with peace
  • The Holy Spirit himself testifies with your spirit that you are a child of God (see Romans 8:15–16)
  • Know that you are loved by God
    The voice from heaven said ‘… whom I love…’ (Matthew 3:17).
  • Feel His pleasure. 
    The voice from heaven says, ‘with him I am well pleased’ (Matthew 3:17). Again, it was supremely true of Jesus but as you walk in step with the Spirit, you too can experience this sense of God’s delight and pleasure. I love the moment in the film Chariots of Fire when the Olympic runner Eric Liddell says, ‘When I run I feel his pleasure.’ 

Walk in relationship with God

Genesis 4:17-6:22

-Human beings are the pinnacle of God’s creation. God created us to walk in relationship with him.

An Encouraging Thought

I originally posted the following blog a little over two years ago. Lately, I’ve been thinking a good bit about purpose…probably because of the new year, discussions about resolutions, etc. There have been times when I struggled with purpose and understanding the “whys“ of life. The thought came to mind more than once lately of how much I’m encouraged and even inspired by those who share their stories, struggles, and how they’ve made it through hard circumstances with God’s help. I’ve been blown away at times by others sharing how something I’ve shared has encouraged them! It’s totally God’s hand at work-nothing I’ve accomplished alone.

Today I want to encourage you, yes you, to continue to share your story- in writing or otherwise. While you are doing so, look for the little ways God reveals He is at work in your life. You may be shocked at just how real and ever present He is. Don’t worry if you are in a season like Frodo where he ”wished the Ring had never come to him.” We don’t always get to choose the situations that come to us in this life, but God promises to use the hardest of circumstances for His glory, if we will allow Him to! I hope you enjoy the following and pray you experience God’s presence continually no matter the circumstance. Blessings!

Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times; but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

J.R.R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)

My husband and two older kids were watching Lord of the Rings recently, and this quote caught my attention, again. I remember it making an impression on me the first time I watched The Fellowship of the Ring, and this time I stopped again when I heard it and reflected on the meaning. We don’t get to choose what circumstances life throws at us at times. It reminds me of a cross stitched quote my mother had hanging in her bedroom years ago. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” If you’re like me, just thinking of that makes you nervous! How will we know what to accept and what to change? The answer is in trust.

We often don’t get to decide what cards we are dealt in life. Sometimes the game of life seems to deal us good cards, and sometimes it feels like we get only the bad. We want to fix everything, to make everything right, but that is not always possible. Some things cannot be changed no matter what we do. If we’ve prayed about it, and are following God’s leading, really all we can do is trust God and keep moving forward.  We don’t have to worry about deciding what will and won’t happen in our lives, we can leave it up to God! Let Him decide that, let Him allow the things He wants to happen in your life. All we have to do is use the time, talents, and treasures He has given us. Is it easy? No! Do we always understand? No! Did God allow the circumstances that are happening in your life right now? Yes! All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).

Time. Sometimes it feels like it’s dragging and flying at the same time. It’s what our lives are made of. We only have a limited amount- say 100 years if we’re lucky. Not to sound all gloom and doom, but life goes by faster than we think and we really don’t know how much time we have here.

All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us”.

That makes me not want to waste time doing unimportant things. It makes me want to be kinder, to love and give more. To not worry as much. To make sure I’m fulfilling God’s purpose in my life.

I love the way Sam, Frodo’s friend, stays with Frodo throughout his journey with the ring. Whether Frodo fully realizes Sam’s devotion or not, it is obvious to the viewer that Sam is a true and loyal friend. I think Sam is a reminder that God sends encouragement when we need it and He makes sure we know we aren’t ever alone.

The situation we find ourselves in that we have no control over was meant to happen. Remembering that brings us peace. It will all make sense eventually, if not in this life, in the one to come!

There is hope and joy in simply knowing you are living out your purpose. It was hard for Frodo to see the hope and joy in his situation when he was carrying the heavy burden of the ring. We all have a burden of some sort. Think about what burden you “wish had never come to you”.

All the human emotions you feel are normal. But remember, there are other forces at work besides the bad ones, there is good at work, too! God is in control of our lives if we’ve put our trust in Him. Our “burden” didn’t catch Him off guard or take him by surprise. He’s working when we can’t even see it and “that is an encouraging thought”.  

Proverbs 12:25

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” 

Your friend,


Tomorrow Is A New Day With No Mistakes…

Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?

L. M. Montgomery 

We are the sum total of our experiences. Those experiences – be they positive or negative – make us the person we are, at any given point in our lives. And, like a flowing river, those same experiences, and those yet to come, continue to influence and reshape the person we are, and the person we become. None of us are the same as we were yesterday, nor will be tomorrow.

B.J. Neblett

If today is not your day, 

then be happy 

for this day shall never return. 

And if today is your day, 

then be happy now 

for this day shall never return.

Kamand Kojouri

The Woman had told her that Tomorrow never comes, but Elizabeth knows better. It will come sometime. Some beautiful morning she will just wake up and find it is Tomorrow. Not Today but Tomorrow. And then things will happen…wonderful things.

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars (Anne of Green Gables, #4)

The sun’ll come out tomorrow, so you gotta hang on till tomorrow.

-Little Orphan Annie

Happy New Year! As we begin a new year, I am reminded that each day is new, and each tomorrow is fresh. Even if I make many mistakes or fall short in some way today, the first day, tomorrow, is ALWAYS a new day!!

Today, I wanted to share another devotion from Bible In One Year 2020 (Nicky Gumble). As I was reading, the words, ”every day is an opportunity for a new beginning,” jumped out to me.

So many of us start new year’s resolutions that we quickly ditch, but when I think about the fact that EVERY day is new, fresh, with no mistakes in it, I’m motivated to focus on the now…just today and maybe tomorrow. I’m reminded not to get bogged down in looking at the whole year, not to get frustrated if a bad day comes my way, and not worry if I don’t meet certain goals on one particular day. Each tomorrow is a new beginning!

The following devotion is lengthy, but has some really awesome, encouraging points.

I’m praying for you today, as you start the new year. I pray you are encouraged and optimistic about the fresh start of each day of 2022!

Your friend,


New Year’s Resolutions

I belong to a squash club, which is also a gym. Each year on 1 January they bring in extra gym equipment. The place is packed out. By about 7 January, they move out all the extra equipment, as most people have given up their New Year’s resolution, and the club returns to normal!

  • Get fit
  • Lose weight
  • Reduce drinking
  • Stop smoking
  • Get out of debt

There is nothing wrong with making these common New Year’s resolutions. Of course, all of us make resolutions that we fail to keep.

The good news is that each year is an opportunity for a fresh start. But then so is each week. Every Sunday is the first day of the week – a new beginning. Actually, every day is an opportunity for a new beginning.

The first three words in the Bible are, ‘In the beginning…’ (Genesis 1:1). Each of the passages for today tells us something about new beginnings and new opportunities, and suggests some possible New Year’s resolutions.

Psalm 1:1-6

‘Delight’ in the Bible

If you are beginning the challenge to read the Bible in One Year, this psalm has encouraging words for you.

The promise is that if you ‘delight’ in God’s Word and ‘meditate’ on Scripture ‘day and night’ (v.2, MSG), your life will be blessed. Happiness comes from what happens to you. Blessing is what happens to you through knowing God and meditating on his words.

God promises you fruitfulness (‘which yields its fruit in season’, v.3b), vitality (‘whose leaves do not wither’, v.3c) and prosperity (‘whatever they do prospers’, v.3d), though not necessarily material prosperity!

This message is backed up by a glance across at the ultimate fate of ‘the wicked’. The psalmist does not try to pretend that the wicked don’t sometimes prosper. He simply reminds us of the transitory nature of their prosperity – ‘they are like chaff that the wind blows away… [they] will perish’ (vv.4,6).

The key to lasting – and ultimately eternal – fruitfulness and vitality lies in your relationship with God. As you seek to follow ‘the way of the righteous’, you are assured that the Lord himself will watch over you (v.6).

Lord, thank you for your wonderful promises as I resolve to make a regular habit of delighting in your word and meditating on it.

Matthew 1:1-25

Focus on Jesus

Resolve to focus your life on Jesus. The Bible is all about Jesus. The New Testament opens with his family tree.

As we read the list of Jesus’ ancestors, it is encouraging to see that they include Tamar (the adulteress), Rahab (the prostitute), Ruth (the non-Jewish Moabite), Solomon (who was conceived after King David’s adulterous affair with Bathsheba), as well as many others. Thankfully, God uses sinful human beings and, therefore, can use us. Whatever your past, however broken your life may seem right now, God can use you to do something great with your life.

The very name ‘Jesus’ means, ‘he will save his people from their sins’ (v.21). Every time we use the name Jesus it reminds us that our greatest need is not for happiness or contentment (although these may both be by-products). Our greatest need, as with Jesus’ ancestors, is for forgiveness. Therefore, we need a Saviour.

The beginning of Matthew shows us that Jesus is the completion of all that is recorded in the Old Testament:

  • Jesus is the climax of history
    Matthew opens his Gospel by summarising the Old Testament story in terms of Jesus’ ancestry (vv.1–17). The Old Testament tells the story that Jesus completes. Matthew sets out the history of the people of God in terms of three equal periods: fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile and fourteen from the exile to Christ (v.17).

    In the genealogy, biological generations are skipped over (as was quite common in Old Testament family trees). Matthew was pointing out that Old Testament history falls into three approximately equal spans of time between crucial events. Jesus is the end of the line as far as the Old Testament story goes – the climax has been reached.
  • In Jesus, all the promises of God are fulfilled
    Jesus is not only the completion of the Old Testament story at a historical level, he is also the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies and all of God’s promises.

    Matthew concludes each of five scenes from the conception, birth and early childhood of Jesus by quoting the Hebrew Scriptures that have been ‘fulfilled’ by the events described (Matthew 1:22–23; 2:5–6,17,23; 4:14–16).

    The first one is the fulfilment in the conception of Jesus: ‘All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”)’ (1:22–23).

All of history, prophesy and promise, is completed in Jesus. Your whole life is completed in Jesus. Every part of your life: your work, family, relationships, friends, memories and dreams are completed in Jesus.

Lord, thank you for this promise for the new year – that, in Jesus, you are with me. Help me to focus my life on you in the year ahead.

Genesis 1:1-2:17

Enjoy God’s creation

You are not here by chance. This universe is God’s creation. You are made in his image.

Genesis gives an account of the beginning of the universe. It goes way beyond the scientific theories of ‘how?’ and ‘when?’ It answers the questions of ‘who’ and ‘why?’ Scientific theories do not prove or disprove this explanation. Rather, they are complementary.

Reading this passage through the lens of the New Testament we see the whole Trinity involved in creation. The Hebrew noun for God (Elohim) is a plural noun. The Holy Spirit was involved in creation (1:2). It was through Jesus that creation came into being: ‘And God said…’ (v.3a). Jesus is God’s Word and through him the universe was created (see John 1:1–3).

In the midst of this account of the creation, there is an amazing throwaway line showing the immense power of God: ‘He also made the stars’ (Genesis 1:16). We now know there are probably between 100 and 400 billion stars in our galaxy alone, and our galaxy is but one of around 100 billion galaxies. He made them all, just like that!

The pinnacle of his creation was human beings. You are made in the image of God (v.27). If we want to know what God is like, it is men and women together (‘male and female’, v.27b) who reflect his image.

Every human being is created in his image and should be treated with dignity, respect and love. Your ability to communicate with God is a reflection of the fact that you are made in his image.

God approves of all that he created. He said, ‘It is good’. Many people feel worthless, insecure and of no value. But God did not create rubbish. God created you. He loves you and approves of you. He may not approve of everything you do, but he loves you unconditionally, wholeheartedly and continually.

We see in this passage that work is a blessing: ‘The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it’ (2:15). Work is part of God’s good creation – not a result of the fall. This passage also reminds us that taking care of the environment is right at the heart of God’s plan for human beings.

Rest is not an optional extra. It is what God did (‘he rested’, v.2). These days of rest (days off, holidays) are days of special blessing: ‘God blessed the seventh day and made it holy’ (v.3). Holidays are holy days. They point to the fact that life is primarily about being rather than doing. Don’t feel guilty about taking time off. Holidays are good in themselves. They are also a time to recharge spiritually.

Don’t work too hard. God took time to rest and enjoy what he had made. You are not supposed to work constantly. You are created with a need for relaxation and rest – taking the time to enjoy your work and the fruit of your work.

In Genesis 2:16–17 we see that God gave Adam and Eve far-reaching permission (‘you are free to eat from any tree in the garden’, v.16), with one prohibition – ‘but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ (v.17a). He warned them of the penalty if they disobeyed (‘when you eat of it you will surely die’, v.17b). You do not need to know and experience evil. God wanted you to know only good.

Lord, thank you for this universe that you have made. Help me to keep well away from evil and to enjoy all the good things you have given us to enjoy.

Pippa Adds

Matthew 1:18–19

How difficult this must have been for Mary, her parents and Joseph. They must have felt embarrassed and ashamed. We see why Joseph was chosen to be Mary’s husband – he was very impressive. The girl he was about to marry was pregnant; he would have been justified in being furious. Yet, he didn’t want to humiliate her – he planned to ‘divorce her quietly’. We see how he acts after an angel appeared in a dream and told him to marry Mary (v.24). It must have taken faith to put aside what people thought and raise a child that was not his own.

Verse of the Day

‘The Lord watches over you’ (Psalm 1:6).