Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summertime and Raspberry Memories

Here's one of my classic posts. It's a perfect summer read.


I ate a bowl of fresh raspberries this morning. And when I took the very first bite of the little red fruit, I was suddenly eight-years old again.

I could see my younger self walking across the gravel road outside my grandparent’s cabin in the north woods of Wisconsin (what we called "Up North"). A patch of wild raspberries grew along that road and, most summer mornings, we'd pick them and eat them with cereal or right from the vine.

I can still remember those long summer days of freedom and adventure--just me and my two sisters at my grandparent’s lake cottage every two weeks, every summer. Bliss!

We'd take drives in the pine-covered countryside, go horseback riding, or go into town for supplies. Minocqua was a quaint nearby tourist town with water-ski shows and Mass on the lake. Leisurely strolling down the main street, we’d stop to buy trinkets with our allowance. Grandma would always want to look at fall clothes, and we couldn't image why anyone could even THINK about autumn when summer was right here, ripe for the picking.

I wanted to stay in my summer state of mind forever.

I remember the aroma of Folgers’s coffee brewing early in the morning. As I chomped on Frosted Flakes, I wondered why grownups drank the stuff when it tasted so bitter.

Most days Grandpa would take us for a boat ride on the lake. He taught us to fish (and made us bait our own hooks) and clean our catch. Then Grandma would fry up a fresh perch or bluegill dinner, complete with a baked potato and big green salad. Yum.

After dinner we’d take a short walk down the peninsula that jetted out into the water. As night fell, you could hear the distant sound of a loon singing his own unique tune and we'd return to the cabin walking on a soft bed of pine needles and mossy green ground.

But back to the raspberries.

Funny how a taste can incite a memory. Good memories. What foods bring you good memories?

Today mine was a bowl of red raspberries. It sure felt good to be eight again.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Are We DATING or JUST FRIENDS?

One of the most popular questions I get asked from readers is, "How do I know if we are dating or just friends?" This post, one of the most well-read on A New Day Café blog, is listed below. May it give you insight and hope. -- Jackie M. Johnson


“Where do I stand? Are we dating or just friends?

If you've ever wondered about an ambiguous relationship with a member of the opposite sex, you are not alone. I call it “The Unknown Zone,” the peculiar place between friendship and dating where you don’t really know what your relationship is.

It hasn’t been defined.

Sure, you hang out. He comes over. You go out to eat. You talk or text--a lot. Or just sometimes. It may turn into something real and lasting, but it may not.

How can you know when he doesn’t communicate or his signals are mixed?

Michelle McKinney Hammond gets to the heart of the matter in The Unspoken Rules of Love. “If he does not ask you to have an exclusive relationship with him, assume that you are not in one.”

Big idea. Don't miss that one.

The guy needs to be initiating and pursuing you. If not, she continues, “Consider and enjoy your other options. Do not behave as if you are in a committed relationship when you are not. Doing so will only entangle your heart and set you up for disappointment and heartbreak. If he doesn’t tell you he wants to be in a committed relationship, consider yourself officially ‘just a friend.’”

You're not really in a real relationship and you're full of uncertainty and angst. That's a hard place to be: relationship limbo. 

A pastor I know once said, “The proof of desire is in the pursuit.”

If a man wants to get to know you, you will know his intentions. You won’t have to guess. Don’t give him excuses like maybe he’s busy, maybe he’s shy, maybe he’s had a family crisis, or maybe (fill in the blank).

Bottom line: For whatever reason (you don’t even have to know what it is) if he is not pursuing you, then you need to let it go. March forward with your life and trust God for the right man for you.

Sure, it may be hard to let go of the "thread" of a relationship. But when you do, you free yourself up for the Real Thing. Don’t settle for something, don’t even settle for “sorta good” when God want the very BEST for you.

You are worth being loved well.
Don't let him or her toy with your emotions and your time.

When the right one for you comes along, you’ll know—-because he will show you and tell you. That, my friend, is worth waiting for.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Feeling Discouraged? There's HOPE Ahead


 

Life is full of challenges. Busy, broke or barely living, you see overwhelmed and errand-weary people every day. Perhaps you are one of them.  

Whether you’re coping with sudden trauma or dealing with the frustrations of everyday life, you know too well the realities of disappointment, uncertainty, longing or lack.  

Maybe you’re stressed from trying to balance work and home life. Or you’ve been unemployed for months and the stack of unpaid bills is piling higher than snow in the Rockies. Could it be that someone you love has left you, or passed on, and you haven’t a clue how life will ever work again? Maybe you’re in desperate need and there never seems to be enough, enough money, enough love, enough time, and you’re simply tired of it.  

Everyone faces hardship in life. How do you deal with it? When tough times get you down, how do you cope? 

Focused solely on our circumstances our view becomes myopic; we see only part of the picture. For example, if you took a photograph of a desert landscape, all you’d see in the four-by-six inch photo would be your perspective from one viewpoint: some sand, cactus and a bit of tumbleweed blowing in the distance.  

But the picture doesn’t tell the whole story. What you couldn’t see beyond the edges of your snapshot was an oasis just ahead, or the desert’s end.  

There’s more to the landscape, and more to your life. 

Beyond the snapshot in your mind of how you feel at this moment, beyond your discouragement or desperation, there is more 

There is hope ahead.  

You can have hope in hard times—in all times—when you know more fully the One in whom we put our hope. Jesus Christ, is our Wild Hope. He is “wild” in the sense that He is passionate and powerful—adoring and authoritative—yet often unpredictable. Hope that is wild is extravagant; it is beyond your wildest dreams. 

Isaiah 55:8 reminds us, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.”  

While His ways are often surprising, Jesus Christ acts out of ultimate love 

When you pray, when you talk to God in a natural conversation, things begin to change. Perhaps suddenly or maybe later on, but things always change. And when you pray, you can find greater peace, restored hope, and more freedom.  

Wild hope is a hope so unexpected yet so wonderfully good, that when you begin to grasp it your life just may be transformed into one of startling kindness, lavish love, and limitless possibilities.  

The economy may fluctuate, your bank balance may rise and fall, and your emotions may ebb and flow like the ocean tide, but one thing is true: the word of the Lord stands forever. God keeps His promises. He will take care of you.  

He is totally reliable, willing and able to meet your needs more than you can ever imagine—wildly more, extravagantly more.
 

Excerpted from Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times (Revell/Baker) by Jackie M. Johnson


Saturday, May 17, 2014

When Life Is Hard: There Is Hope



 
You’re sad. Broke. Frustrated. Stressed out. Angry. Hurt. Someone has done you wrong—or you’ve done something stupid, and you know it.  You just want to give up. To quit.

Whether you’re dealing with a breakup, unemployment, a person who drives you crazy or something else, life can be just, plain hard sometimes.  

Maybe you’re in desperate need and there never seems to be enough—enough money, enough love, enough time—and you’re simply tired of it.  

Everyone faces adversity. How do you deal with it? When tough times get you down, how do you cope? 

The good news?  

You can have hope in hard times—in all times—when you know more fully the One in whom we put our hope: Jesus Christ. 

He is “wild” in the sense that He is passionate and powerful, adoring and authoritative, yet often unpredictable.
 
Isaiah 55:8 reminds us, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.” Hope that is wild is extravagant; it is beyond your wildest dreams.  

While His ways are often surprising, God acts out of ultimate love.

Even when you haven’t a clue as to how things will ever change, you can have hope for the future and for this very moment because:  

·       God is sovereign. He is in control and you can trust Him even when you do not understand.  

·       God is loving. He accepts you unconditionally, despite your circumstances or poor choices. He’s chosen you; He’s just waiting for you to choose Him back.  

·       God is wise. He knows what He’s doing and His wisdom and ways are far beyond our comprehension.  

·       God keeps His promises. He is trustworthy to do what He says He will do, and that strengthens your faith.

·       God is faithful. He is totally reliable and utterly dependable.

God will provide. He is with you and He is for you.  

And, get this—the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is available to you and me today, and we access His power through prayer.  

A prayer-filled life is a powerful life. It will help you to stand strong in tough times. 

When you pray, your life—and the lives of those around you—will be forever changed. You will be inspired to live with greater peace, restored hope, and more freedom. You will discover wild hope through Jesus Christ, a hope so unexpected yet so wonderfully good, that when you begin to grasp it your life just may be transformed into one of startling kindness, lavish love, and limitless possibilities.  

The economy may fluctuate, your bank balance may rise and fall, and your emotions may ebb and flow like the ocean tide, but one thing is true: the word of the Lord stands forever.  

God will take care of you. He is totally reliable, willing and able to meet your needs more than you can ever imagine—wildly more, extravagantly more.

 
For more information about Jackie M. Johnson, visit www.jackiejohnsoncreative.com.
 
 
 

Friday, May 16, 2014

When Life Is A Mess: A Helpful Prayer


 
Cleanse My Heart, Lord
 
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart
and with the full assurance that faith brings,
 having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty
conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
Hebrews 10:22

 
When you feel like life is falling apart...or you don't know what to do...or you need a fresh cleansing and healing from God, here's a short prayer:

Lord, I humbly come before You. My life is a mess right now and I need Your help. You know all the circumstances, and you know how I feel. I ask for forgiveness of my sins and wrongdoings. I am sorry. Will you please cleanse me from the inside out? I want to be right with You. By faith I believe that You take away my guilt and shame. Thank you. I ask in Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.

 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

After a Breakup: Dealing With Emotional Pain




The start of a new relationship is often bliss. You’re energized, excited and happy.  You think about the other person all the time and you can’t wait to be near him or her again.

It feels so wonderfully good to have that air of anticipation and expectancy as you wonder what’s going to happen next.

You soon discover that you really enjoy each other, and maybe you even begin to envision a life together.  I think Robert Browning must have been in love when the poet penned, “God’s in his heaven—all’s right with the world.”

Then Cloud 9 bursts.

Instead of walking on sunshine, you can hardly slug through the day because longing and loss are weighing you down. Or you’re a bundle of nerves, you’re totally confused or you’re mad as a hornet.

Breaking up produces a multitude of emotions. What do you do with them? Or should you do anything with them?

Dealing with emotions is essential to your emotional, physical, and spiritual health. But many people don’t always want to face how they’re feeling. Here are a few reasons why:

You don’t think it matters.

You’re confused by how you’re feeling and don’t know how to handle it.

You know what to do, but you don’t want to go there.

You fear what others will think.

Or, you may feel like you will look weak or stupid, even to yourself.

 
Yet, there is immense value in dealing with your stuff. Know this: While your relationship may be over, your life isn’t. It’s time to get some life back into your life!

In fact, identifying, expressing and releasing emotions are essential because the emotion itself isn’t that important. It’s what you do with it that matters.

Left untreated or unexpressed, emotional pain can wreak havoc in your love life. You may sabotage a perfectly food relationship because of your own commitment fears. Or, you may withhold affection and trust because others have wounded you deeply.

The good news is you can get rid of emotional pain. In time, night will give way to day, and then a brand new day—your new beginning!  


Excerpt from When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton IsEmpty by Jackie M. Johnson
 
 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Center of God's Will


 
The planet we live on is immense. I don’t know what scientists used for a scale, but they say Earth is 8,000 miles in diameter and weighs roughly 6.6 x 1021 tons. In addition, the sun rotates on its axis, turning and spinning as we live, work and play some 93 million miles away.
 
Wow. 
 
I have always been fascinated by the way God has revealed his remarkable wisdom in how Earth is in perfect orbit. Absolutely perfect. If our home planet was too close to the sun, we’d fry; too far away, we’d freeze. Either way, the results would extinguish life.
 
Instead, we are exactly where we’re supposed to be in our place in space.
 
Think about the implications for your personal life. We are exactly where we are supposed to be. We revolve around God, just as the earth orbits the sun--not the other way around.
 
Most importantly, ask God to keep you in the center of His will, in your own personal orbit around the One who loves you most—not too far and always closer still.
 
Jackie M. Johnson is an author and freelance writer in Colorado. Her books include: Power Prayers for Women, When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty, and Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times. Visit and like her author Facebook page.