Thursday, May 28, 2015

Step Away From The Drapes!

It's just that in the Deep South, women learn at a young age that when the world is falling apart around you, it's time to take down the drapes and make a new dress. ~Karen Marie Moning, author

How many times have you taken down the drapes and made a new dress? Sometimes I feel like my closet is full of new dresses—and they’re not the store-bought kind!

The scene of Scarlett O’Hara taking down the drapes to make a new dress in Gone With The Wind is iconic. Especially for Southern women. That mentality is bred into us. But what is it about women in general that when adversity strikes, we muddle through, plow through, or torpedo through? The intensity depends on what the situation calls for. If it involves our children, we definitely shift into overdrive.

While it’s important to see the glass half full and push through the hard times in life, it’s also important to take a step back and wait for God to show you the dresses you already have and what to do with the drapes other than rip them down.

There is such a thing as being too tough. Too self-reliant. Too brave. After all, as Christians, our strength comes from Christ (Philippians 4:13 NIV). When we rely solely on self, we often become hardened like drought-stricken land, unable to soak up blessings when showered upon us. Yet, a soft heart comforts others and receives blessings God intends.

Sometimes it’s enough to crumple into a heap at Jesus’ feet and wait for his healing hand to reach out and lift us up.

But there’s also a danger in not being willing to walk the tough road, in being tossed about in the wind, unable to find the strength to pray with confidence (James 1:5-6). 

So where is the balance?

Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us. Isaiah 26:12 

Rest in the knowledge that God is already out ahead of you. He’s established a peaceful place for our soul to rest when trials threaten to overwhelm us. All that we have accomplished He’s done for us. Does that mean we don’t have to work? Certainly not. But He’s there—ahead of the work. He knows where our successes lie and where our failures will strengthen, not harden, us. Praise Him for meeting your needs and seek His wisdom in your life. His solution is always better than ours.

Next time you’re tempted to rely on your strength alone, remember the same God who furnished the drapes will provide the dresses. They may not have designer labels or even be new, but they’ll be sufficient for your needs.

Will you trust Him for that today?

Do you have a prayer need? Please leave a comment or email me confidential requests. I’d love to join you in prayer.

God bless,

What’s your favorite Bible verse(s) in times of adversity? Leave a comment this week (through 6/2/15) to be entered in a drawing for a free copy of my Kindle ebook, "While I'm Waiting."

© Laura Hodges Poole

“Young Woman Near River” image courtesy of marin/
“Young Woman Opening Curtains” image courtesy of FrameAngel/

Friday, May 22, 2015

Lyme Disease Awareness Month - Guest Post

I have known a few people over the years who’ve battled Lyme Disease. It is a debilitating illness that few understand. May is Lyme Disease awareness month. Click here to learn more about the cause, prevention, symptoms, and diagnosis.

According to the CDC, “Lyme disease is a multisystem disease…transmitted through the bite of certain species of blacklegged ticks… In 2013, state and local health departments reported approximately 35,000 cases of Lyme disease to CDC, making it the fifth most commonly reported nationally notifiable condition…as many as 300,000 persons in the United States might be diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease each year.” (

I’m privileged today to welcome Paula Jackson Jones to share her story through a poignant letter she wrote to herself five years after contracting Lyme Disease. If you know someone who has been newly diagnosed or has suffered for years, this will give you insight into their struggle. If you’re the one with the diagnosis, I hope Paula’s words will be an encouragement to you.

Dear Paula 2009,

I know this is going to sound strange, but in just a few short months something is going to happen to you, something that you are not expecting, something you didn't ask for or were even aware could happen. Your life is going to change in ways you never fathomed.

I am writing this letter in hopes to prepare you, to bring you some comfort, for what lies ahead is not pretty or easy. I know you consider yourself a strong, resilient woman. I know what you've been through, what you've survived. I am here to remind you that all that strength will be needed, will be used. All those coping skills will become an asset in ways you never thought you'd have to use them. I am here to assure you that you will survive it even though there will be times you'll cry out to GOD to call you home, when the pain is so unbearable it supersedes any other thought.

I am writing this letter because I know how you think, how you operate, and I want to tell you that what you think and what you know will be challenged. People you trust will fail you, turn their backs on you, and walk away. They will mock you because they won't understand what you're going through. I know how frustrated you'll become because you won't understand it either. You'll want compassion and support, and I am here to tell you that you'll get it—but in the most unconventional forms.

Don't worry about the ones who let you down, who walk away, because their absence will make room for all the new people who will come into your life; people who share this journey with you, who understand you in ways even those closest cannot. They will inspire you with their stories, educate you with their experience, and encourage you to fight the good fight and stay the course. One day, they will recruit you to join them as a fellow Lyme warrior, Educator, Advocator, and Supporter.

I am writing this letter because, although your body will break down and you will lose sight of the woman you once knew, you will be rebuilt into something stronger, something greater.

Now listen, you survived all those things before this, this path will strengthen you even more. It will grow you in a direction you never thought about but are needed in. And as you grow, you will have all the support you need for every step of the way. I need you to remember this part because you will lose every ounce of strength that you have. Even the most mundane daily chores will be taken from you. You'll be attacked from all sides—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I am writing this letter to assure you, although there will be some very dark moments filled with some of the worst pain you've ever felt, you won't be alone. Your cries will be heard, your tears collected. All your ashes will be saved and restored one day. I am here as living proof that you will survive this pain, the darkness, the despair, and even the heartbreak of everything that you will lose. I am here to tell you pride won't get you anywhere. You will have to ask for help. It will humble you and from there, you will grow. There are lessons to be learned, and whether you want to or not, you will learn them!

Now this next part of the letter may be difficult to read and even harder to grasp.

Those doctors whom you've place all your trust and faith in will fail you on the first part of your journey. They will challenge you and exasperate you. You're going to face some difficult times and hear some not-so-nice things. You're going to feel alone and desperate. You're going to feel lost and hopeless. But I am here to remind you to stay the course, don't give up because Hope is out there. You just need to keep going and connect the dots. You're going to have to listen to others who have gone down this path, and you'll need to filter things and do your own research (that part I know you will love). The frustration will come from the many walls you hit, but keep hitting them, for one day they will crumble, and you'll see a path that will take you in a different direction.

Please trust me—you want to take this path.

As unconventional as this path may seem, it’s going to save your life. You won't understand a lot at first, but the people you meet on this path will teach you in ways so you’ll fully understand everything and know what to expect. They will stay close to you and check in on you. You will never feel alone again. They will empower you with their unconventional ways and empower you to want to get better, to want to make a difference...for others.

I am writing this letter because I don't want you to give up hope. I can't say how long this bend in the road will be, for I am still here on this journey five years later but so much better than I ever was. I can say now that I never thought this day would come—but it did. I will tell you that you will get better but not before you feel worse. That is just par for the course but remember these words—you will feel better and you will see your life going in a new direction.

When you first become sick, you're going to think this will pass. I am here to tell you that it will, but it will take time. It will get worse before it gets better; that is just how chronic illnesses work. This illness will forever change your life. It will break you down physically as it grows you spiritually. It will strengthen core values within you that had been ignored and make them a priority. It will change your outlook on life and set your feet on a new path. You won't know where you are going or when you will get there, but that won't matter because you'll enjoy all the stops and people you meet along the way.

I am writing this letter because I know you will find all of this hard to believe. Doctors turning their backs, insurance wars, outdated guidelines by the IDSA and CDC, misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis, and failed treatment. I know how you think. But trust me, it will be bad. It'll be frustrating. It'll make you scream at doctors and reduce you to tears in public settings. You won't care anymore, but I am here to tell you DON'T GIVE UP! There will be many stumbling blocks, but you will advance. You will need to lean on these new friends and borrow some of their strength until you regain yours. Just remember to pay it forward!

I hope I've been able to get through to you, and I know this all sounds like crazy talk (and you will be accused of that too while on this journey). I am writing this letter to tell you to keep pushing forward, don't take NO for an answer. When you hit a wall, keep pounding until it crumbles. When you feel lost, cry out for people are there to help you. When you feel alone, lift your head and look at the thousands who stand with you.

You won't know or even remember all their names, but you'll know their stories and that connection will forever link you to each other and strengthen one another even from a distance. That connection will take a debilitating disease that can weaken even the strongest, toughest person and make them #Lymestrong \0/

Paula 2014


Thank you for sharing your courageous journey, Paula.

If you’d like to share your thoughts with Paula or offer encouragement, please leave a comment. I know she’d love to hear from you.

God bless,

“Disease or Health Direction” image courtesy of Stuart Miles/
“Unhappy Woman Hiding Her Face” image courtesy of Stock Images/
“Hope Puzzles” image courtesy of Stuart Miles/
“Hope For Cure” image courtesy of vitasamb2001/

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

When The Sun Shines On Rain

“Is the spring coming?" he said. "What is it like?"...
"It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine...”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, author The Secret Garden

What a beautiful picture Burnett paints with her words. Here in South Carolina, the tulips and daffodils have long since bloomed, and the hot days feel more like summer than spring. We finally got rain yesterday, and it was glorious!

Seems like we went from winter to summer overnight.

Do you ever feel time races past you? It certainly has felt that way this year for me. In February, I blogged live from The Cove as I attended a writers’ conference. The weekend was cathartic for me, rejuvenating my writing and reigniting my love for the creative process. The problem? Not enough hours in the day to accomplish all that I want. I suppose that’s something most people feel, whether they’re creatively bent or not.

Even nature seems hurried when it rains and sun shines at the same time!

The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. Ecclesiastes 1:5-6 NIV 

As the days fly by, I try not to feel the pinch of fleeting time and carve out time for quiet. It’s in these moments that God meets us. And if you’re really quiet and still, He’ll share His plans for your life. Not in the hurriedness of our requests, but in the moments of reflection and openness, we hear Him. His compassions are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). He makes our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

So, do I really need to worry about not getting things accomplished? Or feel rushed to do more than I possibly can each day? No, and this has been an ongoing lesson for me that God probably wonders if I’ll ever learn completely.

In the scope of life, the undone doesn’t matter near as much as how we’ve lived or affected those God has placed in our lives.

Our only goal should be to hear these words one day: Well done, good and faithful servant. Matthew 25:23 

How do you find quiet moments with God? Do you have a favorite place or time of day that you spend with Him?

I’d love to join you in prayer, if you have a need. Please leave a comment or email me confidential requests.

God bless,
"Winter" me at The Cove J
© Laura Hodges Poole

“Background Sun Indicates Raining” image courtesy of Stuart Miles/
“Bluebell Woods” image courtesy of Rob Wiltshire/

Friday, April 3, 2015

Encountering The Cross

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” Romans 8:29-30

I don’t know about you, but I love Easter, even more than Christmas. Perhaps it has something to do with the purity in celebrating the resurrection versus the almost total commercialism Christmas has become. (Though some have sought to do the same with Easter.) Maybe it’s because I feel the renewing of my spirit as I celebrate Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, much like nature is reborn each spring.

Easter is a time for Christians to explore whether their lives conform to the image of Christ. How do we do that? By embracing the fact that it’s our destiny.

God has predestined us to fellowship with Him and do His Kingdom work. But how is this possible, when sin and our own self-focus often interfere? There’s only one way—through the cross.

Jesus’ earthly life and ministry culminated on the cross for our salvation. This was the central focus of everything He did. He loves us that much! (John 15:13). One could say His destiny was the cross. Yet, in order for His death to mean anything, He had to choose it.

God created us with free will to choose our own path. Once we encountered the cross and became Christians, we were no longer our own. Because of this, every decision we make reflects Christ to the world.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 

Christianity means living much deeper and broader than ourselves. We must never forget what an awesome and enormous responsibility it is to carry the name of Jesus.

The cross was costly. When Jesus was resurrected, an enormous price had been exacted on Him. He bore the wages for our sin. This Sunday, when we celebrate His resurrection, take a moment to consider that cost. It’s easy to become complacent in the politically correct society we live in, when faced with moral and social issues, and forget the price of our redemption. We have been “predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”

Are we willing to take up the cross of Christ and the cost it encompasses? Consider these thoughts from Jim Elliot, a martyred missionary:

“We are so utterly ordinary, so commonplace, while we profess to know a Power the twentieth century does not reckon with. But we are "harmless," and therefore unharmed. We are spiritual pacifists, non-militants, conscientious objectors in this battle-to-the-death with principalities and powers in high places. Meekness must be had for contact with men, but brass, outspoken boldness is required to take part in the comradeship of the Cross. We are "sideliners"coaching and criticizing the real wrestlers while content to sit by and leave the enemies of God unchallenged. The world cannot hate us, we are too much like its own. Oh, that God would make us dangerous!”


When you analyze your life, does it resemble the world or the cross? For Jesus, it was all about the cross. As we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior on Easter morning, can we say the same?

If you have a prayer request, leave a comment or e-mail me confidential requests. I’d love to pray for you.

Have a beautiful Resurrection Sunday!


“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

©Laura Hodges Poole

“Golgota” image courtesy of bela_kiefer/
“Sunrise and Misty at Mountain” courtesy of Photokanok/

Friday, March 13, 2015

Celebrating A Half Century

Papa and me (1965)
You whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:3b-4 NIV 

What a great promise! As I reflect back over my last fifty years, I can’t begin to count the number of times in my life God has sustained and carried me—through loss and grief, the excitement of raising two beautiful children, and the roller coaster ride of both mountaintop and valley experiences of life. I’m fortunate most of my immediate family are still alive and my parents both in good health. I enjoy good health, a roof over my head, employment, and people who love me. I’ve been fortunate to have success in what I’m most passionate about—writing.

The reasons to give thanks are infinite! At the top of the list is the gift of forgiveness and grace God extends to me daily.

On a milestone birthday, one often reminisces about times of old and reflects on missed opportunities and achievements. I’m no different. A child of the 70s and early 80s, I witnessed the disco era, Watergate, and the introduction of computers.

Now the kings of disco (my favorites as a teenager), the Bee Gees, are no more. Only one silver-haired brother remains. My hair isn’t quite that gray yet, but it definitely makes me feel old when I mark time by the passing of cultural icons of my generation. Pay phones and snail mail letters are almost completely gone, too. Although, vinyl records are coming back among the retro crowd! I guess I’ve lived long enough to be retro. J

But rather than lament the passage of time, I am so grateful for the One who sustained me through change—both good and bad. And as I celebrate my fiftieth birthday, it’s not enough to reminisce or celebrate past achievements.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might… Ecclesiastes 9:10a 

If God chooses to bless me with continued longevity and good health, I want to be about doing His Kingdom work with all my might. In all that I do, I must continue to seek His will—to shine His light in this darkened world. I’m so blessed He gave me both the desire and talent to write. I can’t imagine a life without this gift. I want my writing to bear fruit, stay fresh, and encourage those who read it.

They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green. Psalm 92:14  

And to that end, in celebration of my fiftieth birthday, I’m giving away the Kindle version of both of my books. (Print versions are also available for purchase.) You don’t have to enter a drawing or leave a comment (though I always love hearing from my readers). Simply click on the links below through March 15, 2015, to claim your books. Share this with your friends. I’d like to give away as many books as possible to celebrate reaching the half-century mark of my life. What a glorious thing to be able to say! Praise be to God!

Click HERE to claim your free copy of my devotional

Click HERE to claim your FREE copy of my novella

If you have a prayer need, please leave a comment or email me confidential requests. I’d love to join you in prayer. J

God bless,

©Laura Hodges Poole

“Disc” image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Learn, Pray, Act

“Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.”~ Josh Whedon, author, screenwriter, director

When I was a little girl, I’d trek alongside my father as he worked in his garden that spanned an acre or more of our property. The soft, hot Florida sand squished between my bare toes, and sweat streamed down my little cheeks. Sometimes I ran to keep up with his long strides. Sometimes he slowed his step and took my hand. If I had one word to describe my father, it would be the word “doer.”

God calls us to be doers of His Word (James 1:22). How do we prepare to be a doer? Or do we merely allow the Spirit to guide us in certain situations through divine appointments?


Imperative to Christian life, ministry effectiveness, and spiritual growth is learning—absorbing God’s Word and other Christian books and resources—in order to share with others. If we really want to be led spiritually, immersing ourselves in scripture is the first step.

And we should want to do this, right? I’m the first to admit I have trouble wading through genealogy, or details of the building of the tabernacle and outlining of the law in Exodus and Leviticus. But hidden in those genealogy lists are Bible heroes—their stories are ones of persecution, hope, deliverance, and ultimately, the birth of our Savior. Instead of skimming over, think of the sacrifices of Ruth, the failure and forgiveness of King David, and the obedience of Obadiah. Somewhere among these stories is our story, as well.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
We also want to be led by the Holy Spirit. Actually, this is the ultimate goal. It’s only possible by coupling learning with prayer.

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

Think about it. Which friend do you count on the most? The one you regularly interact with, knows you intimately—the good, bad, and the ugly—and still loves you? Or the one you exchange pleasantries with occasionally?

The same is true of our relationship with God. When you know Him intimately, learn His nature, and are able to trust Him completely, this resonates in our message to others. We can’t possibly share a God we don’t know on an intimate level. When the Bible says we are made in His image, His handiwork, we can believe it. He longs for a relationship with us. Spending time with Him is the most important part of our lives. 

Learning and praying alone isn’t the endgame for a Chrisitan. Yes, we want to draw closer to God and become more like Christ for eternity. But, we’re saved not only for ourselves but for others.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
That’s good news. God has prepared work for us to do. He wants us to act! It’s not enough to learn and pray, if we don’t use it to help someone outside ourselves. Humans are not static. Relationships are not static. God has placed us in family and friendships He deemed important. Whether it’s your neighbor, brother, or co-worker, God has a message to relay through you. We may not even be aware of what the specific message is, but God knows what that other person needs. You may be the one He has chosen to share it.

Explore whether God wants you involved in missions outside of your inner circle—foreign or domestic—physically or financially. We all have talents and spiritual gifts to share. Seek God’s wisdom in this. We are His workmen here on earth. May we always be one “who correctly handles the word of truth.”

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18 
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9 
Learn, Pray, Act.
  • Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you ~Thomas Jefferson
  • Never confuse movement with action. ~Ernest Hemingway
  • Faith is about doing. You are how you act, not just how you believe. ~Mitch Albom, author
What’s your favorite Bible verse that motives you to act? Is there one that caused a turning point in your life and called you to action?

If you have a prayer need, please leave a comment or email me confidential requests. I’d love to pray for you!

God bless,

© Laura Hodges Poole

Recommended resources available online for comprehensive Bible study:

BBN Radio Bible Institute. Free online classes in Bible doctrine, Christian living, Bible books and characters, and more with 117 divisions of study and multiple classes within each division. Certificates are offered with each completion of a division. I have taken a few of these classes and can highly recommend them.

Thru The Bible Radio. Tons of free resources including study guides, notes and outlines, and downloads are available to help you with an in-depth study of the Bible in five years. Even if you don’t listen to the audio, the other resources will provide you with tremendous study potential. I’ve listened to Dr. J. Vernon McGee for years on the radio and have downloaded and printed many of his resources.

Bible Gateway Scripture Engagement. “This section of Bible Gateway, created in partnership with the Taylor University Center for Scripture Engagement, outlines a set of practical exercises and activities you can undertake to interact more meaningfully with the Bible (Bible Gateway).” Many links are available to teach you how to successfully approach reading scripture. 

“Bible” image courtesy of Janaka Dharmasena/
“Young Woman Praying Sincerely” image by David Castillo Dominici/
“Action Screen Show Motivation” image by Stuart Miles/

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Live from The Cove (Billy Graham Training Center)

I don’t know if you’ve noticed lately, but my posts have been few and far between. Whether you call it a rut or just plain exhausted and stretched too thin—my ability to write dissipated. Not completely, but I’d sit at the computer, start a devotion, article, or even a blog post and after a paragraph or two say, “That’s junk,” and walk away. I’m sure those of you who artists and writers can relate.

This weekend, I’m attending a writers’ conference at The Cove in Asheville, NC.  Arriving on “the mountain,” each year is like stepping into the presence of God. Don’t get me wrong. Every day I live in His presence. He’s in everything I see and experience. But here…words don’t exist in the English language to describe the tranquility and holiness of this place.

I first stopped at the chapel, slipped inside, and sat on the back row while the guide talked to a couple near the front. When the guide finished, I moseyed up as she took their picture and then offered to take mine as they left.

She asked if I played the piano, which I do. She insisted I play the grand piano at the front of the chapel—the one played by George Beverly Shea. If you know me, performing in public scares me. Actually, performing in front of anyone makes me anxious. I made some lame excuse about not being able to play without music, and she pointed me to a stack of hymn books. To my surprise (and relief) I was totally at peace as I picked up the hymnal and flipped through, settling on the great Billy Graham crusade invitation hymn, “Just As I Am.” The music reverberated through the chapel, a beautiful tone like no other piano I’ve ever played.

When I finished, I strolled through the chapel by myself, spent some time in prayer, and then took a few photographs. You’ll notice from the photos there are no stained glass windows. The Grahams wanted God’s nature to show through the windows instead. Wise choice.

My desire and zeal for writing has been rekindled. I'm excited about writing and feel so blessed that God has gifted me to share His message through the written word. 

As I sit here at my laptop overlooking the beautiful landscape, a few snow flurries flutter by my window, I wonder—is this what Moses felt when he went onto the mountain to meet God (Exodus 24, 33-34)? Based on the radiance of his face when he came down off the mountain, certainly his spirit was renewed each time he fellowshipped with God in that special place and time.

The peace and tranquility I’m experiencing for this finite time is only a slice of what heaven will be like and what Moses experienced, but I’ll soak up as much as I can and return home with a renewed spirit to do the work God has equipped me to do.

Thanks for joining me on my journey.

God bless,

©Laura Hodges Poole