Friday, November 24, 2017

Simply Believe

"Oh, that my words were now written!
Oh, that they were printed in a book!"
--Job 19:23, KJV

The impassioned plea of Job to be heard, to be understood, and for his words to benefit generations to come is the heart of every writer. 

Job had no sense that this would happen as the art of "printing" was unknown, but he placed his hope in his Redeemer, and God was faithful.

Job's words, now published in the best-selling and most widely distributed book of all time, stand as an everlasting testimony of his hope and faith, and the faithfulness of our God.

Be encouraged.

Now it's your turn. What are you working on that you want to see in print one day?

I always welcome your comments.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Paper Chains  

O give thanks unto the LORD;
for he is good: because his mercy endureth forever."
—Psalm 118:1 KJV

As Thanksgiving approaches, our homes and activities begin to reflect past family traditions. We spread tables with old family recipes, decorate trees with heirloom ornaments, send long-distant relatives and friends sentimental greeting cards, and gather loved ones to watch It's a Wonderful Life and the immortal A Christmas Carol for the trillionth time. 

Who can forget that chilling visit to Scrooge from his dead business partner, Jacob Marley—his ghostly spirit bound with chains? Condemned to wander Earth weighted down due to his greedy and self-serving life, he’d returned with the hope he could spare Scrooge the same fate. 

“You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me why?”

“I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the ghost. "I made it link by link and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.” 

Life gets heavy. Sometimes the heaviness is a direct result of carrying chains we’ve forged for ourselves, while at other times we’re weighted down by circumstances beyond our control. Some people bear physical chains, while others struggle underneath mental and emotional ones. 

The Apostle Paul was unjustly imprisoned and held in iron chains, yet his spirit roamed free. He professed he was “in chains for Christ.” He chose to lighten life’s load by thanking God in his trials and focusing on his blessings. We can do the same. 

Perhaps a part of your family’s tradition has been to make paper chains in anticipation of a special event—summer vacation, a holiday, or someone’s birthday. As family members took turns tearing off links, you counted down the days till the celebration. If you’ve never participated in this meaningful activity, November would be an excellent time to start. But, instead of counting down—let’s count up. Let’s use the links of our chains to count our blessings daily as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving with loved ones. 

To create a Thanksgiving chain, cut fall-colored strips of paper or use the web address provided to print out decorative strips for links. Cut the strips apart and ask family members to write each day something they’re thankful for. Then tape the links together. By Thanksgiving Day, you’ll have a festive decoration to hang near your table or to use as a table runner. Before your meal, pass around the chain and have each person read one of the blessing links. Continue to pass it around until all are read. Then with grateful hearts, thank God for the blessings he provides—blessings that connect his heart to ours and ours to the hearts of others. 

Now it's your turn. Share a holiday tradition your family enjoys? 

I always welcome your comments.

Happy Thanksgiving! Starr

(To access the chain printable, click the following link: For a more colorful chain, print images on both sides of the paper.) 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Keep On Keeping On

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time 
we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." 
Galatians 6:9-10, NIV

Is God's promise of reward enough for us to keep on keeping on? In light of our human frailty, the answer is no

We must look beyond the promise. The hope of God's promise serves as our motivation, but the Promiser is the only way to persevere. Christ gives strength to the weary and enables us to reap the harvest of well-doing. 

The promise is never enough, 
but the Promiser is always more than enough. 

When the lives of Joseph's family members hung in the balance (Genesis 45), he was able to provide for them. Since he'd kept his eyes on the Promiser, his storehouse was full. 

Don't come up empty. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith, and claim the abundant harvest he has in store. 

In seedtime and harvest, God is faithful. Keep on keeping on as if your life and the lives of those around you depend on it...because they do!

Now it's your turn. What are some ways you fix your eyes on Jesus when the going gets tough?

I always welcome your comments.


Monday, March 13, 2017

This Way or That Way?

"Then you will know which way to go,
since you have never been this way before.”
—Joshua 3:4, NIV

Are you constantly on the move yet at the end of the day wonder what you’ve accomplished? Do you spin your wheels only to find, you're stuck? Like me, You may have  days when you question if you're even moving in the right direction?

In Alice’s pursuit of the White Rabbit in Lewis Carroll’s, Alice in Wonderland, Alice said to the Cheshire Cat:

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where—" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.

At times, I’m directionally challenged, but unlike Alice―I do care where I’m going. It’s frustrating when my GPS takes me miles out of my way, or the directions someone has given me are wrong. Sometimes, we need a good old-fashioned road map, or better yet, someone to follow.

Years ago, I was driving my car down a narrow two-lane road. Fog and rain made it difficult for me to see, but I spotted a tractor-trailer pulling out from the intersection ahead. Typically, I don’t want a truck in front of me, blocking my vision and slowing me down, but that night, I was thankful the truck was there. It was easier for me follow its taillights along the dark and winding road than to navigate the route alone.

In Joshua 3, the Israelites camped along the east bank of the Jordan River at the edge of the Promised Land. They were waiting for God to instruct Joshua on when to move out and claim the territory for themselves. As they faced the raging Jordan River and an area occupied by the enemy, God told Joshua to be strong and courageous. He reminded him that he would go with them and would never leave or forsake them.

The same applies to us. As believers, God calls us to do his will. Although the way is not always easy to discern, he doesn’t intend for us to chart our own course. He’s given us his Word as a roadmap and has sent the Holy Spirit as our guide. We have everything we need to navigate the perilous roads ahead.

God cares where you’re going. Wait for him. Place his Word before you and thank him for his guidance. He’ll lead you safely to your destination.

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it'" (Isaiah 30:21, NIV).

Now it's your turn. I always welcome your comments.


**This article was first published in Thrive magazine, March 2017

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


"But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord's praise, for he has been good to me."
 —Psalm 13:5-6, NIV

The gray days of winter can dampen our spirits, especially when we fail to maintain a healthy focus.

Our North Carolina winters are mild. There are seldom days when people are housebound due to inclement weather. Personally, I’m a homebody and can stay secluded in my home for a week and never develop cabin fever. Thankfully for me staying in is still a choice. I might respond differently if circumstances such as illness, tragedy, or personal loss dictated my actions.

People who suffer from depression in the winter months, a condition known as SAD (seasonal affective disorder), can experience anxiety, fatigue, and weight gain. Though the causes, symptoms, and severity of SAD may vary, researchers agree that those who suffer have one thing in common—an acute sensitivity to the lack of light.

Although there are other ways to lessen the effects of SAD, I’ve listed a few below to aid in your return to happiness.

o   Go outside as much as possible. Sunlight generates the production of Vitamin D, the body’s natural antidepressant. If physical circumstances limit your ability to go outdoors, sit by a window as much as possible or invest in a sun lamp equipped with special fluorescent tubes that mimic the sun’s beneficial rays.

o   Exercise. Yes, it's that dreaded eight letter word, but regular exercise is a natural and healthy way to counter feelings of depression. Vigorous exercise releases a hormone called endorphins which elevate your mood and make you feel happy.

o   Avoid coffee. Caffeine can cause you to feel stressed and anxious. Green tea, a natural antidepressant, is a healthy alternative. Loaded with antioxidants and nutrients, it improves brain function, fat loss, and potentially lowers the risk of cancer, Type II Diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Drinking a cup of green tea an hour or so before bedtime will serve as a wholesome sleep aide and relax you.

o   Eat plenty of fruit and fiber. Fruit is also a natural antidepressant. Whole grains, brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat pasta are all good choices as they aid in the release of serotonin, a brain chemical that plays a significant role in mood, anxiety, and happiness.

And lastly...

o   Sing. Yes, I said—sing. A 2013 article in Time magazine stated that singing has been scientifically proven to lower stress and reduce anxiety. When we sing our brain releases endorphins and oxytocin, both hormones found to relieve depression. The additional good news don’t have to be a good singer to reap the healthy benefits of singing.

Scripture substantiates the fact that singing is an excellent antidote for depression. In Psalm 42:5, David is in a mental and emotional battle to rise above his negative emotions.

“Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God” (MSG).

David spoke to his soul, reminded himself of his hope in God and returned to praising him.

I have a dear friend who has a unique way of measuring her level of despondency. Though times in her life may be tough, I often hear her say, “But the little bird in my heart is still singing.”

Is the little bird in your heart singing today? If not, help it out. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord and watch your spirits soar.

Now it's your turn. What is one way you counter the winter blues?

I always welcome your comments.

Praising Him,

Monday, January 16, 2017


Prayerfully selecting a verse for the year and narrowing it down to one word has been my New Year's tradition since the year 2000. It's not only amazing to see the verse or word pop up throughout the year and the ways God speaks to me through it, it's remarkable to see the timing of its appearance. I'm always blown away.

Now it's your turn. If this isn't a tradition for you, I challenge you to make it one. It's never too late in the year to select a verse and/or word that is meaningful to you to see what God will do with it. Once you've made your selection, please share it here.

I always welcome your comments.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

In The Beginning

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Genesis 1:1, ESV

My husband and I recently visited the Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky as well as the Ark Encounter, its sister attraction.  As we strolled through biblical history, we observed man’s amazing interpretation of God’s original creation—a picturesque universe—vast, unspoiled, and serene.

Genesis 1 conveys how God spoke the world into existence in six days. At the end of each day he looked over all he’d fashioned and “saw that it was good.”

Sadly, it’s impossible for God to observe today’s world and say it’s good. Thanks to the first man, Adam, and his lady, Eve, life in a perfect world is no longer an option. In fact, our world’s corrupt condition bears little resemblance to its idyllic beginning.

As an artist, I can't imagine placing my finished work, my masterpiece, into the hands of a small child. A child who has no appreciation for the time, heart, and emotion I’ve invested into the creation process. However, God did exactly that. The Master Artist crowned humanity with his glory and entrusted the work of his fingers into our hands—hands of mere children.

Am I a faithful steward of his creation and the days he's entrusted to me? Are you? As we stand on the threshold of a new year can we look back over 2016 and say it was good?

America just weathered the nastiest election season in our nation’s history. I dare say all of us, irrespective of our party affiliation, would eagerly shout with one resounding voice, “good riddance” to 2016. But let’s look at the year from a personal perspective.

Perhaps you’ve experienced blessings that far outweigh your sorrow. For you, releasing the year to an unknown future is difficult. For others who’ve experienced great sadness, personal tragedy, and loss, you’re more than happy to bid a hardy farewell to the last 365 days.

None of us know what 2017 has in store, but its days spread out before us like a primed canvas. Unspoiled by human touch, it offers us the hope of a brand new start. How can we be faithful with the time God’s allotted to us and use it for his glory?

In 1 Corinthians 3, the Apostle Paul communicates that a builder must be careful how he builds. “No man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (v.11).

If we establish 2017 on the sure foundation of Christ, we’ll be able to look back at the end of the year and say, “It was good because in the beginning, God. . .

Oh, that I would trust him as much as he trusts me.

Now it's your turn. What is one aspiration you hope to initiate for "good" in the new year?

I always welcome your comments.

Happy New Year!

** This article was first published in Thrive magazine, January 2017