Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Review: The Re-Marriage Adventure

Preparing for a lifetime of love and happiness
Susan and Dale Mathis are passionate about helping couples prepare for remarriage. As a remarried couple themselves, they know firsthand about blending lives and families.
Their new book, "The Re-Marriage Adventure," offers practical help, hope, encouragement and wisdom for preparing for a healthy, godly marriage.
One of the key concepts the authors start with is Redemption: "Whether you've lost your marriage through a death or a divorce, pain is a natural part of any loss, and redemption is God's plan for healing that pain. As a couple, having a vision for a redemptive marriage can be one of the most inspiring, productive, and motivating ways to view your future together."
As they share on page 9 of the book, " God can buy back (redeem) your past and deliver you from your broken dreams, heartaches, mistakes and sins, your fears and your pain.
He can restore your joy and hope, and so much more."
For authors Susan and Dale, a redemptive marriage played out by caring for each other physically, emotionally, spirituall, and every other way. They wanted to create an intimate and inspiring relationship that could show others the beauty and promise of God's plan for marriage.
The book offers helpful advice on communication, expectations, sex, finances, blending families and more. With real-life stories from other remarried couples, this book is a must-read for every couple who is planning a re-marriage.
May this book bring you hope and joy--and a healthy, strong marriage to last a lifetime!
The Re-Marriage Adventure is available on or wherever books are sold.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Autumn Leaves: A Lesson in Letting Go

There’s something about the brilliant colors of autumn leaves as summer's green fades to flaming red, vibrant yellow or amber orange.
Before the first snow falls, each leaf wafts to the ground and only the barren tree branches remain. It’s a shedding of sorts. For a season, it looks as if the gnarly trees will be empty forever. But just as sure as spring comes, tiny buds appear; lush green leaves form again and mighty maples, oaks and aspens come to life once more.
Old leaves fall; new growth comes.
In your quest to clean up your house or redecorate your inner life, remember that there is a reason for release and a season for renewal. Letting go, like the brown, crunchy leaves at autumn's end--and letting go of the past and pain in our own lives--is possible as you pray. Ask the Lord to blow a mighty wind in your life to empower you to let go when releasing the past is difficult.  
And then, you will find more peace and freedom.
You’ll feel lighter, as if a weight has been lifted from you. Mostly, you will be making room for new things. And when you do, you never know what surprises God may have in store for you.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Feeling Overwhelmed? A Prayer for Peace

Photo credit: Kit Dennis

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace
at all times and in every way.
2 Thessalonians 3:16

Prayer for Peace

Lord, I am frazzled. My hands are full and my mind is reeling with so many things to do--at home, at work and in other areas of my life. Will you please help me to accomplish all that needs to get done each day and find rest? As I work, help me to be productive and peaceful.
As I love others, help me be calm and encouraging. I need Your peace in every area of my life today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For more prayers, see Jackie M. Johnson's Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times (Revell/Baker).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Value of Rest: Finding More LIFE in Your Life

I am a lot like my German grandmother, Lena. She constantly bustled around the kitchen making späetzle and sauerkraut, and it took some doing to get her to actually sit down at the dinner table with the rest of us.
Like her, I want to get stuff done. I have many lists and find satisfaction in crossing off what I’ve accomplished. While it’s true that being productive can be a good thing, I’ve often gone to extremes and it has taken time to learn the value of rest. It is essential for many reasons.

First, we need rest, both physical and emotional. It’s essential to life and good health. Without enough sleep we may get cranky and tired. Sadly, we may become so preoccupied with trying to gain more in life that we often fail to realize what is lost in the process.
In the demanding pace of life we may lose perspective, forget things or mess up our priorities. We lose peace of mind, and connection with God and others. Our health and relationships suffer. We feel cluttered, scattered, or alone.
In our efforts to be efficient, we may not always be effective. Often, we lose heart.

And we need to find it again.

Perhaps we don’t value rest because we’ve forgotten what it means. Our perception may be skewed by a culture that praises busyness and devalues silence, stillness, and reflection.

Rest brings margin to your life, spaces that allow you to replenish and restore beauty and balance. Without it, life is an endless cycle of work, chores and errands. And that’s not what God intended. Joy, peace, fun and play are essential parts of life, too.

It’s like a score of music. Without well-placed rests, beats of silence, a song would run on and on; it would fail to achieve its true purpose. And it would surely weary the listener’s ear. So composers use whole, half or quarter rests—longer or shorter beats—to make beautiful music. Is there a way for you to find some well-placed rests in your own life? For example:
A quarter rest, which is brief, could be a 10-minute walk to clear your head and say a short prayer. Often I get my best ideas when I get up from my desk and have a change of scenery.

A half rest could be a weekend away or even getting a restful night’s sleep.

A whole rest, a longer period of time, could be a much-needed vacation or   spiritual retreat.

Replenishing rest looks different for everyone. Whether you linger over a cup of tea with a friend, take a twenty-minute nap or a one-minute vacation gazing at the Hawaiian beaches on your wall calendar, think about how you can get refueled in your life.

Because when we’re well-rested, we are better equipped to serve God and others, and enjoy our lives.

Read more about finding rest when you’re busy and stressed in Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times by Jackie M. Johnson.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Busy and Stressed? 5 Lies Keeping You from Peace & Rest

We are a generation of busy people—working hard but hardly living. Getting enough rest, replenishing rest, is often at the bottom of our priority list. But, why?

All of us have reasons we don’t make rest a priority. Some are self-imposed, like people who stay continually busy in order to avoid pain and disappointment. Others live a life of constant motion because they’re trying to please others or keep up appearances.

Of course, there are busy seasons in life, like a couple with a newborn baby, or an accountant during tax time. But for some, being busy all the time seems to be a badge of honor.

To be sure, there is a time to work. God uniquely created each of us with talents and abilities to make a contribution in life. We may be good at what we do and find satisfaction in a job well done. But there is also a time to cease from our labor.

What are some of the lies we believe about rest? When we acknowledge them and release them, then rest and inner peace can replace worry and fear, and things can begin to change.

Read each one listed here and talk to God about what is keeping you from getting the rest you need.
1. LIE: I can do everything, and do it all on my own.  This is the person who believes she has to make it all happen, to do everything for everyone and do it all by herself. Some may call her a martyr; others may call her a control freak. She believes her way is the “right” way or she feels she must save the world. The truth is we are sorely deceived when we think are a Junior Jesus. We don’t save the world; He already did that for us. It’s the ultimate deception when we think we are like God or we are God. (Genesis 3:5)

2. LIE: I feel guilty when I rest. I used to think rest was a luxury for a privileged few. It was a time in my life when I was short on funds and working three jobs just to stay afloat. It didn’t seem fair. I came across the book, When I Relax I Feel Guilty by Tim Hansel and learned that I had a right to rest. In fact, rest was God’s idea! (Genesis 2:1-3)

3.     LIE: I don’t deserve to rest. Rest is a gift. You don’t earn it. A slave driver mentality is not from God but the enemy, the one who is out to destroy you. The truth is, when you come to know Christ you are set free (John 8:36).

4.     LIE: Rest is a waste of time. In reality, taking time to renew your weary self is time well spent. It’s an investment that will pay off physically, mentally, emotionally, and relationally because you will be a better you—for others and for yourself. Stopping periodically to get refreshed ultimately helps you get the job done more effectively.

5.     LIE: If I rest, I won’t get it all done. That goes back to the fundamental question of whose agenda you are following. A major heart shift happens when we begin to realize that life is about God’s plan, His story. We live for God, not for ourselves. He will enable us to get done what He wants accomplished each day when we are surrendered and willing.

Have a productive day—and then get the rest you need to live a better life.

For more about peace and rest in the midst of a busy, stressful life, read Powerful Prayers for ChallengingTimes by Jackie M. Johnson


Friday, October 12, 2012

Perseverance: A Lesson from Mountain Climbing

A mountain is climbed one step at a time. You begin by putting one foot in front of another, and another, until you reach the summit.
Mountaineers know the importance of staying hydrated and never climbing alone. As believers, we can stay hydrated with refreshment from God’s Word, which is as essential to life as water. We can build a team around us for support and encouragement from family and friends. And we can learn to trust our guide, Jesus Christ.
When life is hard...when you're going through a breakup or divorce...when someone has hurt you...when you're low on funds...or you simply don't know what to do....
Press on. Pray on.
And in the process you can find joy in life’s journey. The power of prayer helps you to persevere. That's because the power comes from God, the one who loves you most and has the POWER and STRENGTH to help you in your time of need.
Even when you feel like giving up, believe that the ascent is worth the climb. You are not alone, and you don't have to do this journey called life on your own. Keep on. For once you reach the peak, the view is exhilarating.


Read more about help in times of need in PowerfulPrayers for Challenging Times by Jackie M. Johnson

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Holy Tenacity: Hope When Life Is Hard

When life is hard....when times are tough...when you don't know what to do about your job, health, career, friends, family or spouse...

Press On.

Perseverance takes courage. Believe that God is who He says He is: loving, mighty, powerful, and willing to meet your needs when you come to Him. When the road is long and life seems impossible, remember that God hears your prayers; He sees your tears. God is with you always, and He is at work in your life.

There are still purposes to be fulfilled—lives to touch, things to accomplish, and character to be formed on the inside. 

Press on, pray on, with holy tenacity, holding on to hope that one day—maybe soon—the check will come, the job will be yours, or the house will be filled with a child’s laughter.

Whatever it is you long for, tell God your heart’s desires and He will answer.

Whether it’s a “yes,” “no,”or “wait,” know that the One who loves you most is working all things together for His good purposes. We may not always understand or like it, but we can know with certainty that one day everything will be made right.

Today, we pray and trust Him.

Excerpted from PowerfulPrayersfor Challenging Times by Jackie M. Johnson

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Casting Your Cares

How do you press on when you’re emotionally or physically drained? Rest when you need to, and take care of yourself so you can be your best to help others and live your own life well.
When times are tough, here are some vital things to help you persevere with God’s strength:

1) Cast your cares. Don’t take on burdens you were never meant to bear—like worry, fear and doubt. They’ll weigh you down and hinder you from being effective. Instead, give God your fears; surrender trying to do it all on your own to Him. In other words, like a fishing line, “cast your cares, and don’t reel them back in again.”
Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

2) Press on in prayer. Prayer is the foundation upon which everything else is built in your life. It the most important thing you can do. You may think, “I’ve already prayed, what other solutions are there?” Keep on praying. Talk to God about your situation, because He has the power to change it.
Ask God for discernment. Speak freely and openly about how you feel and what you need. Thank Him for what He’s done already in your life and expect Him to answer. As you pray, believe God is working and stand in the strength you receive.

3) Send in reinforcements. Sometimes you need backup. It’s amazing what happens when you receive support in prayer from friends and family members who are willing to pray for you and with you.
When you don’t know what to pray, when you’re spent emotionally or physically, or, like Moses, when you need someone to “hold up your arms” (to support you), the prayers of others on your behalf can give you a boost to keep going.

4) Take action. Taking one small step can lead to another and another and it builds momentum, and things begin to change.
You will not be in this hard place forever. God will help you through. Unlike others who may have let you down, God keeps His promises. When you take action in prayer, He moves on your behalf.


For more about finding help in hard times, see PowerfulPrayers for Challenging Times by Jackie M. Johnson

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

God loves you—and He likes you

Some people find it hard to believe God will actually help them, and the weight of the world on their shoulders is crushing. They think He doesn’t care, or He’s too busy being CEO of the entire universe to be concerned about their unhappy life. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, God loves you. And he likes you. Despite your feelings of insecurity, inadequacy or other emotion you’re ashamed of, God is all about loving you.

Give yourself permission to believe that what you hope for is actually true. You are not alone; He is with you always. Making life happen, hard and messy as it is, is not all up to you; help is available. And it’s a prayer away.


Excerpted from PowerfulPrayers for Challenging Times by Jackie M. Johnson

Monday, October 8, 2012

Standing Strong in Tough Times

To stand strong in challenging times, we need a solid foundation. When we ask, God will build into our lives support, so when the winds of change and challenge blow we won’t topple like the fragile houses of the Three Little Pigs. We will stand strong. 

Consider what happens when builders are constructing a skyscraper. In order for the building to be tall and not tumble, the workers first dig a foundation and then pound steel reinforcing rods called pylons deep into the earth. Concrete is then poured into the shaft with the pylons for a super-strength hold.

The same can be true in your life—as you grow deeper, you grow stronger in your faith. As you immerse yourself in the ways and wisdom of God, the reinforced truth, like pylons of Hope, Trust, Courage and Faith, help you become stronger. So when your life is spiraling downward or you’re overcome with loneliness, you will be able to withstand more readily the gale-force winds of hard times and pain.

Steel upon steel, story upon story a structure is built. Likewise, God’s Word tells us that hope comes step by step as “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3,

There is hope ahead. And we’re on the way to finding it.

Excerpted from PowerfulPrayers for Challenging Times by Jackie M. Johnson

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Importance of Connection: Facebook Is One Thing; Face-to-Face Friendships are Priceless

The importance of connection

We live in society that exalts self-reliance, and a time where we are more disconnected than ever. The Internet has radically changed how we do ‘people connection.’ On one hand’s it’s a fantastic tool. From my living room in Colorado, I can email my Dad in Minnesota or Facebook with readers in Brazil.
Other the other hand, technology may limit a person’s face-to-face-interactions and in-person friendships. On Facebook, for instance, we may go wide (have a lot of ‘friends’) but not go deep (as in having meaningful relationships with good friends).

We all need to connect with other people. We can do so by building bridges to other people, connecting in person, and not living solely a virtual life. Bridges provide a link from one place to another. Friendships connect one isolated person to another, and soon community is built.

We were created to need each other and to serve each other’s needs. Indeed, our longing for love, friendship and heart friends (close friends) is real. It’s vital to our emotional wellbeing. And so is our need to connect with God. You can build connections in all different areas of life:

  • Spiritual community with people at church, or in a small group, prayer group, missions team or one-on-one.
  • Social community through a bowling league, mom’s group, singles group, coffee with friends.
  • Intellectual community with people from work, joining a book group or other group with shared interests.
  • Physical community in joining a sports team, dance class or getting workout partner for the gym.
  • Neighborhood or city community can be built be showing up at your local playground, a neighborhood block party, or mentoring a disadvantaged youth.
  • Virtual community is a way to connect with others, but make sure it’s not your only connection with other people.

Connecting with God
Of course, the first person to make a connection with is the most important one. Through prayer and our relationship with God we have the most primary and meaningful connection possible.

Prayer is talking with God, not at Him. It’s a holy conversation of both speaking and listening. Your words don't have to be perfect or rehearsed, just real and from your heart. Tell God how you feel and what you need. Thank Him for all He has done for you and for those you love. When you don’t know what to say, even the simple prayer of, "Help!" will reach the loving ears of God. 
For more about finding connection, see "Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times" by Jackie M. Johnson.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Feeling Lonely? Here's Hope

"Are We Dating or Just Friends?" has been the most popular post on A New Day Cafe blog. Ever.

Sadly, when relationships end…when you find out you are just “the friend” and not “the one” you can feel rejected or lonely.

But no matter your age or life stage, whether you are dating, married, separated, divorced or widowed, you can feel lonely at times.

Here’s a brief lesson from the gloriously beautiful aspen groves that grow in Colorado (and elsewhere). When we are lonely we need to get connected, or reconnected again.

Lesson from an aspen grove

On a cool, crisp day in early fall bright golden aspen leaves quake in the autumn breeze. When they shimmer, in all their golden beauty, against the backdrop of a clear blue sky, I remember why I love living in Colorado.

Beyond their splendor, aspen trees are also connected. While the individual trees stand alone, they are literally one organism because their root system is intertwined. Likewise, individuals need community and connection with others in order to thrive. We need bonds and relationships of all kinds—family, friends, community, or people we know from church, sports, or hobby groups.

When we choose to intertwine our lives with others we find emotional fulfillment and a heart that serves. Even simple acts connect us, like bringing a meal to a friend with a broken arm, or calling your grandmother just because.

You are not alone. We’re all connected.


(For more about overcoming loneliness, read Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times by Jackie M. Johnson (Revell, October 2012). Available in book and e-book formats.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

When Life is Hard: Finding Hope

Life can be hard sometimes. What do you do when: feel like GIVING UP…and need PERSEVERANCE’re BUSY and STRESSED…and need PEACE and REST
...when life is a MESS…when you’re DEPRESSED…FEARFUL…or INSECURE?
You can come to God in prayer and find help, hope and relief. The One who loves you most longs to connect with you.
When you need COURAGE…STRENGTH…or the power to OVERCOME a bad habit or addiction….When you need help with your HEALTH, JOB/CAREER ISSUES, RELATIONSHIPS or FINANCES, come to Him in prayer.
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.
He is with you and He is for you, our loving God will provide for all you need.
The good news is that the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is available to you and me today, and we access His “wonder working power” through prayer.
When you pray, talk to God like you would a friend and tell him your worries and cares. In humble awe and reverence, thank Him for all He has done for You—and all He’s yet to do.
And when things to right, continue to come to God in pray and have a heart of gratitude.
May you have wild, extravagant HOPE today!
Excerpted from PowerfulPrayers for Challenging Times by Jackie M. Johnson (Revell, 2012)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pressing On!

Lord, so many times I am tempted to give up. Life is just too hard, and I cannot do it on my own. Please give me the inner strength to keep on gong. I long to do your will. Fortify me, Lord. Thank you for keeping your promises--all of them, all the time. I trust you for your help, hope and healing as we walk through this life together. In Jesus' name. Amen.
From "Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times" by Jackie M. Johnson

Monday, October 1, 2012

Living Connected: A Lesson from an Aspen Grove

When we choose to intertwine our lives with others
we find emotional fulfillment and a heart to serve others.
On a cool, crisp day in early fall, golden aspen leaves quake in the autumn breeze. As they shimmer, in all their golden beauty, against the backdrop of a clear blue sky, I remember why I love living in Colorado.
Unlike other trees, aspens are connected. While each individual tree stands alone, an aspen grove is literally one organism because their root systems are intertwined.
Likewise, people need community and connection with others in order to thrive. We need bonds and relationships of all kinds—family, friends, community, or people we know from church, sports, or hobby groups.
When we choose to intertwine our lives with others we find emotional fulfillment and a heart to serve others. Even simple acts connect us, like bringing a meal to a friend with a broken arm, or calling your grandmother just because.
You are not alone. We’re all connected.
(Excerpted from "Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times" by Jackie M. Johnson, (c) 2012)