6 suggestions for getting through the rough times in life

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

There is no problem God can’t solve.
There is no promise God can’t keep.
There is no prayer God can’t answer.
There is no person God can’t save.  ~ author unknown

I have no idea who wrote the above quote, but it’s a truthful statement that applies to anything life throws at us:

There is no problem God can’t solve – The husband who just lost his job and has no idea how he’ll support his family.  God can solve the problem of unemployment.

There is no promise God can’t keep – The teen who’s all alone and depressed with nowhere to turn. When God says He’ll never leave her nor forsake her, is that a promise she can trust? His promises in His Word are trustworthy.

There is no prayer God can’t answer – The bad news of cancer – does God hear the prayer that’s being sent for courage to endure and healing of illness? He hears our every prayer.

There is no person God can’t save – The spiritually single woman who longs for her husband to know the saving grace of  Jesus Christ. No one is beyond God’s saving grace.

So what can we do when faced with the difficulties of life?

Here are some suggestions for getting through those particularly rough times.

1. Spend an abundant amount of time in prayer. I have found in my own life that the times when I’m going through difficulties are the times when I grow in my relationship with the Lord. I am reminded anew to surrender to Him, lean on Him, and put my hope in Him, in every situation.

IMG_000622. Draw upon God’s Word. During a particularly rough time in 2007, I drew great comfort from Psalm 91. To this day, it remains my favorite verse in the Bible. Here are some other verses to lean on during the troubles of life.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. ~ Peter 5:7

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. ~ Matthew 11:28

Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you. ~ Psalm 55:22

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. ~ Psalm 46:1

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. ~ Psalm 121:1

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. ~ Isaiah 40:29-31

3. Reach out to and rely on a friend, someone who’s faith is strong and someone who will be there for you for the duration of your situation. It’s true that you find out who your true friends are when you’re going through a difficult situation. That type of friend will be there for you through the good times…and the bad. 1094303_3_friends_5

4. Seek assistance from your pastor, one of the elders, or your Bible study leader. Many churches now have Biblical counselors who apply the Word of God to the hardships of life.

5. Ask for prayer support. One of the biggest blessings is our church’s prayer chain. Ask for prayer support from those you trust and who are committed to interceding for you.

6. Think of a way to bless someone else. The quote is true that states “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Sometimes life’s challenges seem overwhelming. You wonder if God is really there and if He truly cares about what you’re experiencing. He does care. Very much. And He loves you so much that He sent His own Son to die for you.

Don’t give up hope. Reach out to Jesus. Cry out to Him. Trust in Him. And depend on Him.

Sweet Friend, He loves you so much.

What if for one day, we loved as Jesus did?

Penny Zeller, Christian Author
What if for one day, we loved as Jesus did? I mean, truly loved as Jesus did. Not say we will, not pretend to, but really, truly focus on putting another person’s needs ahead of our own?

Can you imagine how we could change the world one person at a time?

And what if it became a habit?

Allow me to share a story with you about my friend Donna. Donna has rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, back problems, and a host of other health ailments. However, this doesn’t stop her from tirelessly serving others and showing each person she encounters the love of Christ in action.

thread-spool-1378256-mCase in point: Donna is often babysitting her grandchildren while her daughter and son-in-law struggle to make ends meet. Donna also teaches sewing classes to homeschool students, volunteers at church, cares for her mother who has dementia, and assists her niece, who has been hospitalized on numerous occasions with a severe neurological disorder.

I’ve never once heard Donna complain.

Add to that, the fact that a mutual friend was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and Donna came quickly to her aid.

One of the requests of our friend with cancer was that the precious words she’d written would be put into book form before our friend passed away. Donna quickly took care of our friend’s request, even though she was busy with other items, including upcoming medical tests for which she had to prepare.

This didn’t stop Donna.

reading-book-1368361-mDonna went to the local office supply store with our friend’s words. She knew time was of the essence. Our friend wasn’t expected to live much longer and her dream of seeing her words in book print became Donna’s goal.

Donna achieved her goal and was able to present the book to our friend.

Jesus tells His disciples in Matthew 20:28, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…” saint-matthew-1336079-m

When I watch Donna, I get a glimpse into what it means to be Christlike and to really truly serve as Jesus did. And not only that, but as an avid prayer warrior, there’s not a day that passes that Donna doesn’t intercede on behalf of others.

I know, because I’ve been blessed to be the recipient of her prayers on a couple of occasions.

So, what if for one day, we loved as Jesus did? What if we set out to bless someone else without the expectation of ever receiving anything in return?

1113096_give_meWhat if everyday, we strove to put others first and didn’t expect to be served, but to instead serve, just as Jesus did?

What a difference we could make!

If you’re looking for ways to enlist your family in making a difference in the lives of others, please check out my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others.

How to Train a Deer

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

The other day as my daughters and I were driving home, we came across a herd of deer in a field by the side of the road.  “I wish I had a pet deer,” said my youngest daughter, Doodle.

“Deer can’t be pets,” muttered my oldest, Sunshine, who is perhaps one of the most realistic and literal children I know.

Doodle brushed Sunshine’s comment aside, and I watched in the rearview mirror as her face lit up with excitement. “If I had a pet deer, I would do two things.”

“And what would those be?” I asked, knowing Doodle possessed the same overactive imagination as someone else we know.

little deer

“Well, first, I would train the pet deer not to poop in our yard.”

“That would sure be nice,” I agreed.

“You can’t potty-train a deer,” Sunshine muttered, acting far older than her years.

Ignoring her literal sister’s comment once again, Doodle continued. “And you know what else I would do, Mom?” she asked.

“What’s that?”

“I would train the deer so I could ride it when I go places!”

“That would be a fine idea,” I agreed. “With gas prices as they are, that would really help out the family budget.” I could see in the rear-view mirror that Doodle had it all planned out.

“I just need a saddle,” Doodle quipped.

I love the imaginations of little children and how their minds are filled with creativity, dreams, and possibilities.

Such a thought brought to mind the words of Jesus in Luke 18:27 “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”  Our family was discussing this morning during devotions the blessings God has bestowed on us throughout our lives. That we have each other; that we have shelter, food, and clothing,  just to name a few.

That we can see the sunrise, hear the birds sing, and feel the soft fur of a fluffy puppy; and that He has healed us so many times from illness and protected us from disease.

pexels-photo-266617

And of course, the most humbling of all, that He gave us the precious gift of His Son so we might have eternal life.

Yes, so many impossibilities through our human weakness, but so many possibilities with God!

Guest Post: I’ll Never Get My Life Back (and a chance to win Disney tickets!)

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

My friend and fellow writer, Jessie Gunderson is my guest this week. She and her family are in the process of adopting two beautiful children from Ethopia. Jessie is holding a fundraiser on her blog where you can help out and have a chance at winning a pair of Disneyland tickets.  She’s also giving away a second place gift – your choice of one of my books (McKenzie, Kaydie, Hailee, 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference, or Hollyhocks).

This is such an awesome opportunity to give two children a chance at a forever home!

I’ll Never Get my Life Back

By Jessie Gunderson

I’ve never thought of myself as the mothering type. I was the girl making mud pies and riding horses. The delight I experienced once I started having kids surprised me but I still longed for a day when they’d be grown up and I’d get my life back.

One day I was thinking about God’s profound love for us and how Jesus gave up his life so we could live and I began to change. I realized I couldn’t love God and despise His creation. I prayed for Jesus to show me how to love people.

slide fam sm

The Gunderson family

I’ve been a mother eleven years this December, learning how to love, surrender my agenda and the perfectionist tendencies, and grow to a place where I no longer want a different life. Isaiah 58:10 says to spend yourself. And as I studied God’s selfless character, I realized that’s how I want to be.

I delivered a little boy, my fifth child, at our home in the woods and I knew that our family wasn’t complete. God revealed over the next year and a half, His plan for further growing our family to include internationally adopted children. We’re currently in the process of adopting a 5 and 7 year old brother and sister from Ethiopia. She wants to be a judge when she grows up and he wants to be a runner. The journey toward them is immense and the heart change has taken me a lifetime but I no longer want out. I want to surrender to Christ’s strength and lean on him so I can spend myself loving the least of these.

Don’t forget to stop by Jessie’s blog to read about how you can help the Gunderson family bring home their two newest members of their family and in doing so, have a chance to win!

Special guest and book giveaway with author Staci Stallings!

Today I have special guest, Author Staci Stallings, on my blog. Staci is giving away a copy of her fantastic contemporary romance  book Cowboy.  (Your choice of a Kindle download or the paperback version). Below is the blurb:

Life has done its best to knock Beth McCasland to the ground, and the truth is: it’s done a pretty good job of keeping her there. Stuck in a minimum-wage job with a young daughter counting on her, Beth does her best to stay standing under the weight of it all because she knows God is on her side. Then one night she gets the chance to be an angel to another of life’s weary travelers. For once hope has never looked so real.

Cowboy is a grace-filled story about the power of giving everything to God and how a simple act of compassion can change lives forever. Emotional, soothing, and heart-wrenching, Cowboy is infused with the message that no matter who we are and no matter what life has thrown at us, we never have to walk alone.

I recently read Cowboy. You can read my review here: http://www.amazon.com/Cowboy-The-Harmony-Series-ebook/dp/B0049B2E82/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&qid=1326343386&sr=1-1

As always, anyone can enter (U.S. residents only, please) by leaving a comment for Staci. Don’t forget that confirmed subscribers receive two entries! The giveaway ends on January 19, and the winner will be chosen at random.

And now, a special devotional by Staci that I know will bless you…

The Power of I Can’t

by Staci Stallings

We sometimes tend to think we know all we need to know to answer these kinds of questions–but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds.  We never really know enough until we recognize that God alone knows it all. (TMB 1 Corinthians 8:2-3)

Let’s be honest.  Our culture today worships the individual who succeeds.  We hold up as our role models those who are tough, who fight through adversity and come out on the other side, those who know the most and do the most.  It’s an intimidating culture to marinate in.

We have been told almost from birth that any situation you face should be met with a “can do” spirit.  “I Can” is verily tattooed to our birth certificates before we exit the hospital.

In schools, administrators busily design programs that foster “self-reliance” and “self-respect.”  They teach children to believe in themselves and work toward their goals.

I suppose from a worldly perspective that’s about all we could ever hope for.  After all, without God, who else are you going to rely on?  There is a song that talks about no one is going to have your back when you fall.  That’s the juice we are all steeped in.  We hear it in commercials and on the radio.  We even hear it from each other.

“It’s okay.  You can do this.  I know you can.”

But here’s the thing:  None of this is Biblical.  None of it is based on a relationship with God.  It is all based in self, which ultimately is the very sin Adam and Eve got thrown out of the garden for committing.

So I invite you for a moment to take a good, hard look at these messages that sound so good and so right, and see them for what they are:  lies of the Enemy.

That may sound harsh, but speaking as someone who practically gorged herself on this kind of thinking for 35 years, I can tell you that this way of thinking is not just sin–it is deadly.  When you rely on yourself, what happens when you are weak?  What happens when your doubt overtakes your faith?  What happens when you’re walking on water with a friend who really needs you, and you suddenly sense that you can’t do this?

I’ve felt the panic that rises at this very thought.  I have fought it.  I have tried to shout it down with platitudes and positive thoughts, but the sad truth is, on my own I’m not capable of handling the depth of brokenness in this world.  Sometimes I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to do, I’m swimming and swimming, but I sense that at any moment I’m going under with no way to find up again.

That’s often what happens when God puts you out into deep water with the emotional issues of others–family, friends, those we work with, our children, and spouses.  There is a depth to the need that none of us can quite meet.  No matter how much we want to.  No matter how much we try.  We simply can’t because as humans we are limited.  We have limited understanding, limited wisdom, limited patience, limited everything.

But here’s a secret that Satan never wanted you to hear.  When you think you can’t, you’re right.  Now that doesn’t give you license to give up.  It is, instead, a call to stop trusting yourself and start trusting God.

Jesus is walking on that water with you, and He knows you can’t.  He never meant for you to.

I know, that’s radically new thinking, but it’s true.  God knows you are human.  He knows you don’t have all of the answers. He doesn’t expect you to.  What He wants is for every one of these occasions of “I can’t” panic to be cause for you to call out to Him, to ask Him into the situation, to reach for His help, His love, His strength, His wisdom, His peace.  He wants nothing more than to come to your assistance, but you have to recognize your own need for Him and make the choice to ask.

There is power–God’s power–waiting in the words “I can’t” so long as they are followed by, “but He can.”  Rest in that power.  Reach for that power.  For He is always right there ready and willing to do what you can’t.

A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from.  Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again.  Every title is a new adventure!  That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading.  Staci touches the lives of people across the globe every week with her various Internet endeavors including:

Spirit Light Books–The Blog
http://spiritlightbooks.wordpress.com/

Facebook Author Page at:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spirit-Light-Author-Staci-Stallings/266593276699576

Staci’s Bookshelf:

http://stacistallings.wordpress.com/

Or…

Follow Staci on Twitter @StaciStallings

 

Favorite devotional posts for 2011

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

Today is the first in a fun series I’ll be posting about for the next couple of weeks highlighting the “favorites” of 2011.

To kick it off, today I’m featuring my readers’ favorite devotional posts for 2011 (in random order). I have been blessed to have several guest bloggers on my blog in 2011. A HUGE thank you to Kerry, Jo, Joy, Rhonda, and Theresa for sharing their inspiring devotionals! Be sure to check out their websites (listed in their individual devotionals) for more of their inspirational writings.

I have more wonderful guest bloggers scheduled for 2012 on Thursdays, along with the usual fun Thursday book giveaways. I’ll also be continuing my Movie Monday Movie Reviews each Monday, (in case you missed any, they are archived here: https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/mom-approved-movies-for-families/ ) and of course, on Tuesdays, I’ll give you a humorous glimpse inside the life of a wife, mother, and author. Mixed in will be some family and marriage posts and a few other miscellaneous items. 🙂

For now, kick back and relax and enjoy these devotionals!

Training for God https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/training-for-god/  (guest blogger Kerry Johnson)

Hidden treasures https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/hidden-treasures/  (my devotional)

How to train a deer https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/how-to-train-a-deer/ (my devotional)

Back in business https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/back-in-business-devotional/ (guest blogger Jo Huddleston)

Lessons from a sage grouse https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/lessons-from-a-sage-grouse/ (my devotional)

Word games by heart https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/word-games-by-heart/ (guest blogger Joy Avery Melville)

The fifty cent prayer https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/the-fifty-cent-prayer/ (guest blogger Rhonda White)

Mamma, I need my pants! https://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/mamma-i-need-my-pants/ (guest blogger Theresa Miller)

A HUGE thank you to you, my readers, for your encouragement and support in 2011. May God bless you in 2012!