Category Archives: Encouragement

He wrote The Book…and your story <3

Good morning and happy Friday!!!

We are covered in a fresh layer of snow here in God’s country and the charm of it has perhaps worn off. 

It’s pretty and all; but here in the Midwest, farmers are counting down the days til they can plant and young parents are longing for days when they can shoo their little ones out to play after school and we are all just ready for some green and some blossoms. 


Waiting for new life to show itself across the heartland. 

And that is what Lent is.


But active waiting. 

Waiting to celebrate when God provided the perfect Passover Lamb for us.

It is active waiting because while we wait, we examine ourselves. 

We return our souls to the pilgrimage of remembering what Christ has done for us. 

I am using a 40 day Prayer Guide each morning (free from Lifeway if you are interested) and each morning includes a scripture and some prayer prompts. 

Today the reading is from Psalm 119, verse 37

“Turn my eyes from looking at what is worthless; give me life in Your ways.” 

The prompt reminded me to praise God, for He is my Life Giver and the Author of Life.

That jumped out at me. 

Author of life. 

As someone who has this bizarre urge to not only write down my thoughts, but I am also compelled by something deep within me to share them, I have a deep respect for the title “Author.” 

To gather up all the phrases and word pictures and form them into sentences that convey some kind of message that is impacting and encouraging and exhorting is somewhat like giving birth to a ten pound baby.

 Every. Single. Day.

When I think of God as being the AUTHOR of all LIFE…and the Author of MY own personal life story and living existence…I am overwhelmed by the tiny glimpse of understanding I can apply to the activity of authoring something. 

So here is the prayer I wrote this morning ….

Heavenly Father God, You have given me life and you have given me New Life and You have given me eternal life. My every breath and heartbeat is from You. I am so thankful for the life you have given me to live. You have authored – lovingly written my life story. Given birth to it. You have threaded my days and moments together in carefully and thoughtfully chosen and loving ways. When I have stepped off script – You have edited and made beauty of my mess and I am so grateful for You. 

How about you?

Can you look over your story and see His hand writing it?

Perhaps you are in a season where the Author seems to have taken you into a plot twist that seems cruel and hard to understand. 

Hold fast, my friend, be assured…He is not finished with your story. 

It will end, beautifully, as you yield it to Him. 

May God bless each of you as we journey through the season of Lent together and prepare our hearts for a most blessed celebration of the Resurrection and anticipate His perfect work completed in each of us when He returns. 

Journey Onward <3

Monday Things <3

Hello to you and Happy Monday!

We had a seemingly harsh set back to all the Spring Hopes and Dreams I had going as we came out of church yesterday morning to a full blown snow storm. 

Our yard is completely covered in white, but you know it had a good side.

Russ seems to have caught the bug that plagued me and I needed a quiet day so we didn’t feel a bit guilty about just being restful and still all day yesterday and it felt good to do that Sabbath Rest idea the right way. 

We read and rested and renewed.

I am ready to face the week with more energy than I have felt for about ten days, which is going to be helpful because I am behind on EVERYTHING.

So here are some randoms to get us jumpstarted and on our way.



This says it all. 

We really do mimic and imitate the people we admire. 

We pick up their catch phrases and mannerisms.

We start to style our hair and closets after their lead.

What matters to them starts to matter to us. 

And I want to choose Jesus. 

If I admire someone and lean toward them as a role model, I want it to be because I see Jesus IN THEM. 

Wednesday is the beginning of Lent.

It’s a 40 day period that invites us to step away from the normal cycle of every day living and take intentional steps toward “taking Christ’s heart and mission and making it my own.”

It won’t happen if we don’t plan for it. 

What are YOU going to do leading up to Easter 2019 to step into a closer relationship with Jesus?


Here are two things I play to use devotionally:

This was gifted to me by my dear sister, Sonja Reimer…who also christened me with the name “Journey Onward” many years ago. 

This book is a collection of mediations on the Cross written by some of the strong Christian voices that have spanned our church history. 

I will most likely be sharing from the book, but would love to have you join me on the Journey as you read your own copy.

You can order here ——>

The other 40 day plan I have landed on is being offered through Lifeway.

It is free to sign up and you will receive daily emails. 

You can sign up here —->

It sounds like they will be suggesting some opportunity to incorporate a fast each week as well as devotional prayer prompt five days and then a Sabbath rest, which …. see #1 for my feelings towards that concept <3
photo by Rachel Maxwell


If you don’t have a church home, First Christian Church here in Decatur is doing a 7 week series during Lent on the Names of Jesus.

Our sermons are live streamed on Saturday evening and Sunday mornings…

here —–>

and you can watch later in the week or anytime to catch up…

here —–>


I have been praying about trying to do something here on the Journey that would be a community Lent series, but since I never got a clear go ahead on the way that should go…I am just letting you know…it looks like business as usual with an open door for God to lay a series here and there as he would lead me…some sharing from my devotions and my own Lent meditations…and a little bit o’random as the Spirit moves us through the Journey <3


You showing up means more to me than you could know and I love your bits of encouragement to me when you share. 

I am blessed to have this spot on the internet to share my heart and my life and God’s goodness to me with you when  you stop by. 



here is a funny to send you off into Monday with…

Rachel brought the band of brothers and little miss thing to our house Saturday while daddy was working. 

The kids were watching the birds around the feeder and Emmett exclaimed…

“Lola!!!! You and Papi are making the world a better place!!!!” 

I was in the middle of washing dishes so was caught a bit off guard as to how my mundane tasks were contributing to such a grand effort, when he gave me two big thumbs up and smiled enormously and said….

“You are feeding the birds!!!!!”

Wow… I had no idea the impact a few morsels of sunflower seed could have globally but I certainly felt noble all of a sudden. 

Be blessed…feed some birds…make the world a better place <3

The Flight Plan <3

Hello everyone and happy Friday!

I woke up this morning feeling more like myself than I have for a week. 

The viral thing plaguing me has vanished and hallelujah! It’s good to feel good again!

I am happily getting ready for work and wanted to drop a quick note. 

Travel by air is an adventure these days. Delays and cancelations seem to be the norm instead of the exception and our flight last Saturday followed the trend. 

We were delighted to see our plane was on time when we arrived to the first leg as we had a comfortable window to make our connecting flight in Dallas. 

But as we all buckled into our seats and waited to back out of the gate, that didn’t happen. 

Passengers were starting to suspect something was up when the pilot came on and began to explain the situation. 

It was a winding tale of woe and troubles for our flight that rambled from one bad scenario to the next. 

You know me, I always find humor in life situations and I finally had to grab my notebook out and ask Russ to help me remember the details as I knew I was getting a good application lesson for us all. 

Probably first lesson  would be, if you are going to be a pilot speaking over a microphone, you may want to attempt a more positive angle as you address a plane full of people who are relying on you with their lives – but I will leave that for another day. 

Basically, he started off by telling us that due to bad weather we were being rerouted through the northern part of Oklahoma, so he thought he should have the fuel levels checked to make sure we had enough for the detour. 

I will pause here to say that I would assume having enough fuel to allow for any kind of extra flight time is a good idea, but I’m not a pilot so…

Next he told us that we should expect a lot of turbulence, though he sure hoped it wasn’t as bad as yesterday’s flight because that had been terrible. 


He used the word “terrible.”

He also shared with us that the weather in Dallas wasn’t looking very good at all. 

And sure enough, we were low on fuel so we were going to have to wait for someone to come and fill ‘er up…and he wasn’t really sure how long that would take.

Then he wrapped up the whole depressing announcement up with this statement…

“other than that, thank you for flying with us and we hope you have a nice flight.”


Not likely, my friend…but thanks for the good thought. 

Russ and I were laughing so hard, he even suggested he might have a guest blog in him for this one. 

While I could see the humor in the whole event, I also saw myself. 

And that isn’t so funny.

So often I focus on the negative of a situation. 

Granted I am usually being realistic and proactive to be ready for what could potentially go wrong, but still…is it wise to focus on all the negatives in a way that is resigned to seeing no hope for a good outcome. 

What a great example of how not to be. 

We don’t have to be blindly optimistic and fake about the realities of life, but a shift in the way we deliver the news can make or break the moods of those around us. 

My words and my attitude are influential over those who I am responsible for and I want to guard them better. 

Something to think about and work on…but for right now, I need to prepare the cabin for take off…

so have a nice day and as you go about your dailies remember…

 it’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it <3

When holding on means we have to let go <3

Oh my…it seems my deer story resonated with you all and for that I am high fiving Jesus, because I struggled with actually publishing it. 

I had, you guessed it, anxiety that you all would think I was insane for finding humor in that story…but you get me and for that, I am so grateful <3

I have one more little story of God showing me the futility of worry and then I promise…Thursday and Friday will be devoted to how God offers us hope and freedom from the vortex of angst. 

I know I have written a post about this at some point in the past, but its worth sharing again because it fits so well with our theme. 

Our mall, like so many others, has a central stage type area. It is a venue for school organizations and dance studios to put on exhibitions.

Picture a carpeted mini-amphitheater that descends down toward a pool of water separating the audience from the performers. 

When our children were little, it was a favorite place for them as they would toddle down the stairs and throw coins in the water. 

After they were grown, I didn’t have much reason to stop there but one day I needed to check some phone messages and so I sat for a while on the top step. 

A young mom came along and I watched as she followed her child down and handed pennies to be tossed in. 

I smiled nostalgically and wistfully pined for those days when life was easier.

Back then, I could kiss skinned knees and whip up a favorite meal, say bedtime prayers and tuck them in safe and sound and life was good. 

Now they were off facing unknown-to-me battles and adventures.

Their hearts got hurt in ways I couldn’t ease away with my love and in that season, I was overwhelmed with the process of transitioning into the role of adult-children-parenting. 

And then in the middle of my rose colored glasses reminiscing, God spoke to me in that candid and slightly firm way He has and flashed a real life visual of me as a young mom in that same setting.

After racing down those carpeted steps behind my charges, I stood grasping the back of a jacket or the shoulder straps of a pair of overalls with a white knuckle grip and giving shrill instructions to be careful and get back and don’t lean so far over when you throw that penny for crying out loud!

 That body of water between us and the stage was swirling like the white water rapids coming off a mountain in Colorado and at any moment I knew our precious child was going to be sucked in. 

I could hear my mom’s voice in the back of my head reminding me a child can drown in a teaspoon of water and I would breathe a sigh of relief when our coins were gone and we could start the climb back out of this nightmare death trap. 

You think I exaggerate, but you think wrong. 

As the mother of adult children, I recognized the truth that the penny-throwing had never really been a fun thing for me because I feared our kids would fall in. 

I got up and walked down to the bottom of the stairs and looked at the water to see it in its reality and said to my more grown up self…good grief…it is like 4 inches deep. 

The worst thing that could have happened is they got wet. 

I went back and sat down and tried to grasp how I could have had such a distorted perspective that was clearly uncalled for and God whispered how perhaps I needed to apply this to my new role. 

Grasping the back of their grown up selves was destroying me. 

It was sucking the life out of my soul, interfering with the relationship changes God was wanting to bring about and it would not keep them safe and dry not matter how much I shouted warnings and grappled to maintain control.

I needed to let go of the worry and the anxiety of the what-if’s.

They might fall in…but they also might find out that they don’t have to.

They might learn their lessons the hard way and they might have the time of their lives at the edge of what looked so scary to me.

They might just find out that God sets wondrous and wide open boundaries if we learn to trust Him. 

But it needed to be their story…their falls…their standing firms… their sorrows…their joys.

Let go of your grip on them Laura, I heard Him say…I’ve got them…I always have… I always will <3

When worry becomes a magic charm….

Are you working today or is President’s Day a holiday in your world?

We are kind of both today.

It is a holiday but Russ had to go in for a while to do some things so I am semi-holiday mode and semi-regular day mode which means I am still in my pj’s but have started the Monday laundry chores.

We are in the second week of a short series called “Be Anxious for Nothing” at our church and I am taking it to heart so at least for a few days…and maybe the whole week…we are going to visit this a little bit.

I come from a long line of worriers who wish they weren’t.

My mom used to send a weekly letter…typed margin to margin…front and back…in quadruplicate…to my sister, my aunt and her husband, my uncle and his wife, and to my family.

It updated us on all the details of every day the past week including food eaten, appointments kept and places and friends seen. 

I am not kidding. 

Every. Week.

At the top she often penned a handwritten note with an encouraging verse or quote that basically said to let go and let God handle things…but the letter was filled with anxiety and worry. 

Typed line after typed line. 

Bless her heart.

And yet, so often I have done the same. 

As I have been working through the material for this week’s study, I faced the question and concept that was shared in the sermon this past Sunday.

Based on an article in Psychology Today, our pastor explored the theory that we somehow along the way in our lives begin to assign to worry the capacity to actually keep us from the thing we are worrying about. 

I am certain there are some easy-breezy folks out there that shake their head at the insanity of such an idea ..but I am one who nodded her head because it resonates deep within me. 

I can pinpoint in the development of my own perspective on navigating life that around the age of ten, I started to notice something. 

I was in fourth grade and living in a smallish town in Kentucky. 

Neighborhoods were linked together with fairly safe roads for a kid to ride her bike and as I began to be given more freedom to head off on my own for an afternoon of play, I found that some days my mom was not at all concerned where I was and other days she would need me for something and would begin calling for me to come home. 

Besides the capacity to worry, we Ploch/Lochner descendants are blessed with voices that carry a country mile so if I was out of ear shot….I was too far from home. 

If she had tried to rally me and I didn’t respond, the result was that she was full of angst when I returned.

I had “worried her sick” and the consequences produced a large amount of guilt in me as all maladies for the next several hours or days could be attributed to my being out and about and not letting her know where I was.

So I would begin to worry and check back in to see if she had called for me…and she never had. 

All was well.

She had been sewing or cleaning or doing whatever she did while I was traipsing around the neighborhood and I could go back out and be free for awhile. 

Except I wasn’t free. 

Because just like the report in that magazine, I began to connect that my worrying was somehow the magic charm that kept her from being upset with me. 

If I was carefree and having fun exploring the creek with a friend, that was the time I didn’t hear her calling…but if I fretted and kept a low-level guilt on the back burner while I played…that seemed to be the ticket. 

And it became a life-long pattern.

Worry – and everything will be fine.

Don’t worry – and face the consequences which are usually quite heavy.

I am not blaming my mom for this.

I probably would have been wiser to learn the discipline of time management and making sure I was working within her expectations for checking in, but instead I made a magic charm out of “worry.”

In an odd way, worry became my little g-god….and it’s been a hard habit to break. 

But praise my Big-G God…He is always in the business of helping me grow up. 

How about you? 

Is there any way that God may be trying to get you to see that you have allowed a little-g god like fear, dread or worry to replace Him on the throne of your heart? 

It is time to grow up and obey God when He says….

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.

Philippians 4:6 The Message