Sunday, March 24, 2013

Whiny Wednesday

By Shelly Burke, Editor

I was feeling very whiny by Wednesday of this week.  It just had not been my week (all three days of it). I was frustrated by a sore back (which prevented me from going to Wayne on Tuesday to pick up the Nebraska Family Times and getting it delivered and mailed, AND kept  me from attending Bible study on Tuesday), my vehicle being in the shop, the dead battery on the vehicle I had borrowed, and my e-mail not sending OR receiving mail. Of course once I began listing my complaints the list went on and on…

I do not like to get in that “pity-party” state of mind; I try to start counting blessings rather than complaining, but on this Whiney Wednesday that just was not working. And the more I complained to myself, the more “bad” things I thought of. And the more things I thought of, the more exhausted and discouraged I felt.

Finally, determined to get out of that negative spiral, I opened my Bible. It was in my mind to turn to Psalm 71 and when I saw the title of the Psalm, Forsake Me Not When My Strength is Spent, it was very clear Who put that thought into my head.

I read through the whole Psalm and immediately underlined these words:

My praise is continually of You. (v. 6b)
My mouth is filled with Your praise, and with Your glory all the day. (v. 8)
My mouth will tell of Your righteous acts…for their number is past my knowledge. (v. 15)
I will also praise You with the harp…I will sing praises to You with the lyre. (v. 22)
My lips will shout with joy…(v. 23a)
And my tongue will talk of Your righteous help all day long. (v. 24)

I realized how much I had to praise the Lord for when I started writing things down:
·              Morgan is home on spring break so I got to see her every day this week—and she went with me yesterday to mail and deliver papers. We had a great day together! I think sometimes God allows glitches in our schedules to keep us flexible and show us that life goes on, despite those glitches.

·              My sore back was almost all the way better and I was able to work on Wednesday (at my new job, which I love—another thing to praise the Lord for!)

·              I have always dreaded vehicle problems. I don’t understand vehicles AT ALL and have often worried, “What will I do if my car won’t start and I have to get to work?” God forced me to confront that fear on Wednesday morning at 5:10 AM when the car I was borrowing wouldn’t start. I remembered reading about a new cab company here in Columbus, and immediately called them. The dispatcher said that normally they didn’t start until 6:00 AM…but she heard the desperation in my voice (I’m supposed to be at work at 5:30) and said she’d call to see if anyone was up. The very nice man who picked me up a few minutes later said he usually didn’t turn his pager on while he was getting his car ready for the day…but he had on Wednesday. I got to work in time to prepare for my first patient! (And the car started easily after a jump start…the nice man who did that said it had probably been weak because of the unseasonably cold weather.)

·              My vehicle is FINALLY back—YAY!

·              I am so very, very blessed with friends who encourage me, pray for me, make me laugh, sympathize when I’m having a bad day…THANK YOU, friends!

·              The April issue of the Nebraska Family Times looks great! I’m blessed to get to do something I so enjoy.

·              Despite indications to the contrary, the calendar says it is spring and the snow we’re getting will not last long.

Once I started, I realized that the number of things I can praise God for is truly “past my knowledge.”  Rather than complain I will “tell of Your righteous acts,” “sing praises,” and “shout with joy!” 

And next time I start counting complaints rather than being thankful, I know right where I’ll turn. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

"Stepping Out to a Life on the Edge"

by Shelly Burke, Editor

(image from
Thank you Mr. Mailman, for bringing the package to ME this morning! It contained the book I've been waiting for--my good friend, Deb Burma's book, Stepping Out to a Life on the Edge"! I was honored when Deb asked me to do some editing and proofreading of the book this fall (and, evidence of God's great timing, her request came at a time in my life where I really needed something like that to keep me busy and remind me of the love Christ has for me). 

Stepping Out is based on Deb's keynote talk at the 2011 Lutheran Women's Missionary League national conference. Deb's message throughout Stepping Out encourages each of us to--with the help of God--step out of the things in our lives that are holding us back from the life Jesus has in mind for us. 

Twelve chapters comprehensively address so many of the issues women face. Some of my favorite chapters include: 
  • Stepping Out of My Fear to a Life of Courage
  • Stepping out of My Worries to a Life of Trust (I can so relate to my worries about my kids in one of my favorite lines in the book--favorite because it hits so close to home--Deb writes, "I worry that my teenage children will get in some kind of accident as I fret over their safety: "Honey, don't chew gum while walking. What if you trip? You'll choke!")
  • Stepping Out of my Judgmental Attitude to a Life of Grace
  • Stepping Out of my Hurried Lifestyle to a Life of Balance and Peace
  • And eight more chapters addressing My Past, My Insecurity, My Need to Please, My Material Mind-set, My Pride and Selfish Ambition, My Bitterness and Anger, and My Comfort Zone.
    Chapter Twelve wraps it all up with Stepping Out to a Life on the Edge. 
Deb uses "real life" stories from "real life" women to illustrate how we are held back by our pride, fears, anger and bitterness, and so much more. Then she reassures readers, through God's Word, that we can step out of our comfort zones and into what He has in mind for us to do while we're serving Him here on earth. 

I am so excited to read Deb's words in book form (rather than in printed-off-of-email form) and be encouraged and reassured and motivated as I was last fall! I'm not QUITE done cleaning...but done enough for this afternoon...I'm putting up my "Do Not Disturb" sign and reading! 

Read more about Stepping Out to a Life on the Edge, and order, 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

By Donna Pyle

(This devotion was reprinted in the March issue of the Nebraska Family Times. If you would like to read more to “inspire, encourage and motivate you on your Christian walk,” request a
FREE sample issue of the Nebraska Family Times
 by e-mailing your address to or calling (402) 750-3496.)

Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky boasts a specific claim to fame: it's the world's longest known cave system. Containing more than 390 explored miles, early cave guide Stephen Bishop called it a "grand, gloomy and peculiar place."

Twenty years ago, I visited this amazing labyrinth. An adventurous person by nature, I signed up to experience a cave excursion first hand.

The morning dawned crisp as our huddled group awaited to descend into that strange and wonderful world. The tour guide greeted us, counted heads, and our adventure began. With great care we descended 250 feet below the earth’s surface on steep steps through narrow crevices.

Talk about creepy!

Our leg muscles shook from overexertion as we reached the bottom of the cave. The ground leveled off and we found ourselves in a large, cavernous space lit by electricity. Once the tour guide ensured everyone had descended safely—and after issuing the proper warning—he turned off the lights.

Few words can adequately describe the absolute blackness that engulfed us.

The thick, oppressive darkness felt as if it was literally pressing in on me. My chest felt heavy. My breathing came in short gasps. I blinked my eyes frantically. I put my palm in front of my face, but couldn't see it.

I began to panic and stretching out my arms into the darkness. I needed assurance that I wasn't alone.

The tour guide continuously spoke to us in low, smooth tones to remind us of his presence. After a few minutes when our eyes adjusted to the absence of light, he struck a solitary match.

The effect was astounding.

We could clearly see every person in our group and the cave walls and ceiling. The small light had completely expelled the cavernous darkness.

That experience left an indelible impression on me. It illustrated far better than words where the blackness of sin would have taken mankind had Jesus not freely offered His light in the place of our darkness.

We may panic when dark seasons occur, but God's soothing voice speaks volumes of comfort and assurance to us through His Word: 

"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you
nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8
"You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light." 2 Samuel 22:29

If you are walking in a dark season, lean in and trust God. You may be shaking from overexertion. Your chest may feel heavy. Take a deep breath and listen for His gentle whispers reminding you of His presence.

The Lord himself will be your light. The only light Who can expel that darkness completely.

You are NEVER alone.
Reprinted by permission of the author.

Donna loves blogging about faith-based issues on her blog Hydrated Living. You can also read more at Artesian Ministries She’s also on Facebook at “Donna Pyle” and “Artesian Ministries”.  Donna has authored 18 Bible studies, and published several shorter Bible studies and magazine articles. In November 2011, she released her first DVD-based Bible study series, "Your Strong Suit", based on the armor of God. (I just completed the “Your Strong Suit” Bible study and learned so much! I highly recommend it.)