October Newsletter

Hello Encouragers,

It’s October, a time to plant bulbs of encouragement in your heart and those around you that will bloom at their intended time. It’s so glorious when the Spirit brings forth to our mind an encouragement from the past such as when a friend’s comforting words rises from the background of your mind at just the right time. Always ask, and expect, Holy Spirit to encourage you.

This month’s newsletter, an 8 minute read, is packed with good things for you:

  • A Hymn of Promise - guest post by Tara Shantz, a dear friend and fellow oncology RN
  • Opening the Door to the Heart is Tough – Musings by Terri
  • October Book Review - Transforming Your Thought Life: Christian meditation in focus, by Sarah Geringer

Introduction to Tara’s Guest Post

Planting bulbs to rise in the spring is an autumn task, and there’s an expectation of a big reveal. The hymn titled, In the Bulb There is a Flower (Hymn of Promise), by Natalie Sleeth, speaks of seasons and revelations. The devotion, A Hymn of Promise, comes from the heart of my dear friend, Tara Shantz, and her thoughts were prompted by the message within the hymn. Tara’s graciously allowing me to share it with you in this post.

Following_jesus.heartsencouraged.comThe Hymn of Promise, by Tara Shantz

The Hymn of Promise is uplifting to me. Its optimistic lyrics written by Natalie Sleeth in 1985 remind me there is light in the moments of trial, tribulation, and even despair. The lyrics remind me of the human lifespan and that our beloved Jesus rejoices and endures alongside us.

As a nurse primarily focused in oncology care, I learned to stop asking the question “why?” a long time ago. My first couple of years spent at the bedside with acute leukemia patients were very hard. Not only was I learning how to be a nurse to critically ill patients, I was also learning how to cope with compassion, fatigue, and grief that affected me both professionally and personally. Six months after starting my job, I was called to support my brother in California for six weeks. Complications of open-heart surgery led him to have a heart transplant. Thankfully, he thrives today. This time period of my life is when I realized “why?” is not my business, believing is. The last line of the hymn speaks well to this, “unrevealed until it’s season, something God alone can see”.

Although the grief encountered in my nursing career has not lessened, the threshold of my resilience has improved. I remain prayerful that the Holy Spirit works through my knowledge and skills to meet my patient’s needs where they are with the resources that I have at any given time. I remain humbled by the talented healthcare professionals who I get to call peers and colleagues – the patients who demonstrate unbelievable courage – grateful for perspective and so much more.

The Hymn of Promise is special to me. It provides a comforting reminder that there is light in moments of trial, tribulation, and even despair.

Pray with me: What you can see, God, is so unknown to us—and we are humbled by your vision for us and for your world. We have hope knowing we, and all things, are in your hands. Help us embrace the mystery that is you, and that is us. Amen.

Below is a video of the Hymn of Promise 

Musings by Terri - Opening the Door to the Heart is Tough

I’ve been posting to this blog for a little over three years. Some of you have been with me since the first post and your encouragement and comments have sustained me. Lately, the Holy Spirit is pressing me to share from the deep, inner recesses of my heart, saying, Share the valleys, the pits, the pain, and the lessons, Terri. I respond, Oh my, there’s been plenty of that, for sure, but your request, Holy Spirit, is a scary thing.

For years, I fiercely guarded my heart to protect against hurt and rejection, and no one could protect my heart like me. As a Christian, I followed God, loved him, but did not give him access to my heart. I misunderstood God’s brand of love as opposed to human love. I didn’t think I could trust Him with the most delicate and fragile part of me. With much brokenness, scars and shame, along with deep hurt, I believed my heart was no place God needed to be nor wanted to be. Tears fill my eyes, even now, as I recognize how much I needed his presence in those days. What healing could I have received and so much sooner?

Then came the day when I had no choice. As a last resort, I fearfully abandoned my guard post and invited God to not only enter, but take up residence. On my shins with head bowed, and going against every reservation pulsing through my mind, I gave God access. I chose to trust Him with my heart. And, I’ve never had to be on guard since.

Daily, God directs me how to tend the soil in the garden of my heart and we work it together. But now, the Spirit is asking for others to be invited in. This means sharing my story, God’s story written on my heart. There’s risk in doing this—being misunderstood, rejection, or silence. In a blog format, one never knows how the message is received so putting your heart out into the world takes guts. On the other hand, every time we tell of God’s loving, incomprehensible, incomparable presence, wisdom, direction, and acts, we give others hope and support their faith endurance and perseverance.

I’m going to take the risk, but I’m feeling insecure and uncertain.  This means it’s time for me to softly sing my go-to hymn, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”. Sing with me,

I have decided to follow Jesus;

I have decided to follow Jesus;

I have decided to follow, Jesus;

No turning back, no turning back.

I sing to renew my promise to God and my conviction. Faith beckons us risk sharing our heart and trusting God to use it as he chooses. 

Now on to the Book Review!

BOOK REVIEW
Transforming Your Thought Life: Christian mediation in focus, by Sarah Geringer

Sarah and I met at a Proverbs 31, She Speaks, writing and speaking conference. We became prayer partners before the conference and as her friend, I’ve been supporting her journey to publishing her first book via mainstream publishing. She has at least three self-published books. Transforming Your Thought Life identifies thought pathways embedded in just about every woman’s mind. For instance, self-critical thoughts, discontent thoughts, regretful thoughts, unforgiving thoughts, and so on. These pathways can be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Sarah provides Biblical content and her own stories of thought-life healing. Moreover, it’s a great book to use as a reference for thought-life tune-ups.

Here’s a quote from the chapter titled, Defeated Thoughts,

"Look for God’s goodness every day, and your confidence in him will grow. As you watch the Lord destroying your defeated thoughts and uplifting others, thank and praise him for his goodness (Psalm 27:13). He always makes good on his promises, and tracking the victories will strengthen your faith."

Sarah’s book is being released this month and I’ve received an advance copy. It’s definitely a must-read. Check out Good Reads and Amazon for other readers’ comments.

 

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You've reached the end, and I hope you've enjoyed the content and the links. As a parting thought, know to the core of your being God has you in the palm of his hand. No other place is as secure, supportive, and powerful. He's got you! Peace to you, Terri