Story

Do You Know About Jesus, Or Do You Know Jesus?

“ You are no stranger to Me, dear one.” – Jesus Calling for Easter I grew up in a family that never discussed giving up something for Lent. I always wondered how giving up chocolate for seven or eight weeks could make an impact on my faith in Jesus. As my faith matured, I began to better understand how Lent was a gift of time to prepare myself for Holy Week and the remembrance of Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice for me. This time of Lent was not so much about what I gave up but more what I put in place to better spend time drawing more closely to Jesus.  It took me some time to realize that Lent was not just a time of darkness and the focus on my sinfulness, but rather an opportunity to keep my sights on the hope that Jesus offers me. This world is quick to show me how I consistently fa...

God Is Surrounding What’s Surrounding You

“Help me to stay mindful of You as I go step by step through this day. Your Presence with me is a precious promise—and a comforting protection.” – Jesus Listens, October 29th My brother was thirteen years old when a band of bullies on bikes encircled him like buzzards taunting their prey. He was outmanned and outnumbered. I thought it was the end. But then my dad pulled up in his Pontiac. He didn’t even get out of the car, but simply rolled down the window and gave a look that said, “I dare you.” The bullies scattered like mice when the lights came on. Prayer As we pray for ourselves and the ones we love, it’s easy to think the spiritual forces surrounding us are too strong to defeat, too shrewd to outsmart, or too slippery to take hold of. The prophet Elisha’s servant felt the same way. I...

The Weight of Perfection

by Emily Ley “I yearn for perfection, and only You are the fulfillment of that deep longing. You are perfect and holy, yet You choose to stay close to me as I walk through this sin-stained world. When I look the right way—toward blessings, toward You—the Joy of Your Presence shines brightly upon me.” – Jesus Listens, August 30th “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” — Hebrews 12:1 NIV Struggling perfectionist Hi, my name is Emily, and I am a struggling perfectionist. Even as I write those words, I squirm a little, because I am still very much battling my perfectionist tendencies. I’d like for my home to be spotless, m...

The Value of Surrender

by Justin Davis “You have invaded the innermost core of my being, and Your Spirit is taking over more and more territory within me. As Your Word teaches, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. I rejoice in the freedom I have found in You, Jesus. And I surrender gladly to Your conquering Love!” – Jesus Listens, July 4th When I was eight years old, my family lived in a house on a hill with a steep gravel driveway. Water ran down the hill when it rained, making huge, oval mud puddles on each side of the grass-grown median of the driveway. Dad’s Disciplinary Method One day, coming home from work, my dad caught me playing in one of those irresistible puddles. He wasn’t as concerned about me playing in the mud as about where those puddles were located—just a few feet from the county ...

Your Life Is Your Prayer

“I love to use Your Name as a whispered prayer, a praise, a protection; and it never loses its power.” – Jesus Listens “The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw—and knew I saw—all things in God and God in all things.” —Mechthild of Magdeburg “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” —Mark 11:24 (NIV) Personal Fear On a summer trip to Jackson Hole, I conquered a personal fear. The trip was jam-packed with activities. We hiked, fished, floated the Snake River, roasted marshmallows, and took the tram to the top of the ski mountain for waffles. It was a blast, until our trip to the Aerial Ropes Course. Everyone knows Mom isn’t a fan of heights. I panicked when the outfitter said both parents would need to be eigh...

Becoming Christlike, Even in Conflict

“Trouble and distress are woven into the very fabric of this perishing world. Only Your Life in me can empower me to face the endless flow of problems with good cheer.” – Jesus Listens Prayers for Advent Jesus said in this world we’d have trouble, but somehow we usually think it’s found the wrong address when it knocks on our door. Misunderstandings. Disagreements. Clashing personalities and preferences. These are just a few of the relational conflicts we encounter in our homes and workplaces. And it should come as no surprise. On this side of the Fall, life is riddled with strife, but the good news is that God hasn’t left us alone to be overcome by difficulties. We live in the presence of a Redeemer who is at work in us, desiring to use even the most challenging situations to make us more...

God Can Mend Our Broken Hearts

“I can walk through the darkest days with Joy in my heart because I know that the Light of Your Presenceisstill shining on me.” – Jesus Listens Prayers for Advent Our lives are a series of challenges and benchmarks, with all sorts of lessons waiting to be scooped up along the way. There are few life events as heart-wrenching as splitting from someone you envisioned spending the rest of your life with. In today’s world, with all of the distractions, game-playing, and lack of social courtesy, romantic disappointment is an all-too-common occurrence. I’ve been there myself. The pain and symptoms of loss and dejection that wash over you—it feels like that hurt will never go away. Fortunately, that too will pass. And youalready possess some of the tools to start moving towards a healthier place ...

The Gifts of Amazing Grace

“I must hold on to these glorious truths with all my might as I make my way through the debris of this broken world. Help me remember that You Yourself are the Truth. You are also the Way, so it is wise to follow You.The Light of Your Presence is shining on me—illuminating the pathway before me.” – Jesus Listens Prayers for Advent Rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. (Philippians 3:1 NIV) My floral teacup is filled with stories. This delicate cup holds some (now dried) pink roses that one of my children bought to celebrate my first year of remission from cancer. I recall that hard-won healing milestone whenever I look at it, but I remember something else when I look more closely: Nestled within the dried roses is...

Life Isn’t Fair—But God Is In Your Corner

“I delight in hearing You whisper, ‘I am with you.’ And I rejoice in the new strength gained through spending time with You.” – Jesus Listens Prayers for Advent Sometimes life isn’t fair. Can I get an amen? Sometimes life just smacks us down. Without warning. And it’s not even our fault. Sickness hits out of the blue, beloved relationships end, or divorce or death arrives at our door, changing us forever. We all have stories We all have stories to share. We all have trials. Hurts. Pains. They just come in different flavors. Some hurts are big. And I mean really big. Like huge. Others are smaller, but they are real. And they count. I have a story, too. I am compelled to share only for this reason: freedom. God wants to take all of our burdens, big and small. He wants to make all things...

Nurturing Lifelong Friendships

“You lead me down the mountain, back into community with other people. May the Light of Your Presence continue to shine on me and make me a blessing to others.” – Jesus Listens, January 25th There’s something deeply comforting about a lifelong friend. They fit like a favorite sweatshirt: relaxed, familiar, and safe. Maybe you met when you both still had a lot of growing to do, so you did it together. You’ve supported each other through breakups and breakthroughs. You’re long past the early days of building trust, explaining the backstory, or worrying about formalities. But as easy as seasoned friendships feel, we can’t take them for granted—we can’t treat them like old sweatshirts. Like all relationships, lifelong friendships need attention and care. Here are three ways to nurture lifelong...

Prayer: A Gift to Marriage

“You’ve shown me that gratefulness blesses me doubly—with joyful memories of answered prayer and with the pleasure of sharing my happiness with You!” – Jesus Listens, February 29th Marriage is an incredible journey, full of ups and downs, twists and turns. There have been many times our marriage has surprised us, sometimes in good ways, and other times we have been surprised—or rather shocked—at how such a close relationship can experience heartache, pain, and hardship. In those times of uncertainty and emotion, we clung to the Lord in prayer. We humbled ourselves and presented to Him our brokenness, in hopes of Him transforming us for the better. Prayer was an anchor Prayer was an anchor for our relationship and continues to be a way we strengthen our unity and increase our intimacy with ...

We’ve Never Walked This Road Alone

“These signs of Your Presence strengthen me and prepare me for whatever difficulties I’ll encounter on the road ahead. Help me to remember that nothing in all creation can separate me from Your Love!” – Jesus Listens, September 22nd “God is going to do big things with your life,” we often hear. No doubt well meaning, but is it true? Is it big when God allows a believer to wrestle with debilitating chronic illness? Is it big when a godly servant spends his or her life serving in a small one-room church in a rural town? Is it big when a mother turns down a corner-office promotion to teach her children full time from home? Can a small and hidden life be as glorious as one seen and heard across the globe? Earthly standards While not big by earthly standards, even small acts of obedience that g...