A reason for hope: He is risen!

Happy Good Friday, friends!

Do you struggle to be consistent, positive and hopeful?

I do.

I haven’t posted on the blog in two months. I’m still struggling with some health issues, which are overwhelming at times. In fact, because I have an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s, a hypothyroid condition), my doc decided to test for other autoimmune diseases last week. People with one autoimmune disease are more likely to have others.

I tested positive for ANA (antinuclear antibody). ANA is present in most people who have lupus, but not everyone who tests positive actually has lupus. The doc has referred me to a rheumatologist in Little Rock for further testing and evaluation, and I’m still waiting to get an appointment. (I tested negative for rheumatoid arthritis last week, but I seem to be developing osteoarthritis.)

I don’t want this blog to be about my health, but you need to know that my health struggles are an ongoing source of concern for me and my family, and a source of exhaustion and frustration for me in particular; it means I struggle to concentrate and stay focused on what I’m writing, so I’ve started and stopped many posts many times.

(I also live with a dude who’s had an autoimmune disease since the first year of our marriage, so there’s that.)

With every post I write — especially when I haven’t posted in weeks — I struggle with whether to bring up my health, because that’s the main reason for the inconsistency.

And I struggle to stay positive. I struggle to get out of bed every morning, and to put one (injured) foot in front of the other.

So let’s look at the very best reason to stay positive and have hope:

HE IS RISEN!

Today is the observance of Good Friday, the day our Lord Jesus was crucified.

On the third day after the crucifixion, He rose from the dead.

He died and rose for ALL of us, no matter what race, color or creed.

Those sins you’ve struggled to conquer? He conquered death so you could rely on HIS power and strength, not your own.

That disease or family problem or job strain or those money woes you’re stressed out about? He has overcome the world and, while we still have to live in the world, that’s not the end of the story.

His death gives us HOPE because He has promised us a future, if we will believe in Him.

If you’re not a believer, you can become one this instant.

Admit you’re a sinner in need of the Savior’s forgiveness, grace and mercy. Turn from your sin and hand him the reins of your life.

For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

Yup. You have to relinquish control. And that’s nothing to worry about; it’s actually FREEING. You have Him there to lead and guide you, every step of the way.

He died for this. He died to give us hope and a future.

I celebrate this fact with you today, because it’s the only thing that can get me out of bed some days.

HE IS RISEN!

Jesus is Lord, and He is alive and living in the world today, even when it seems crazy to believe that.

I pray that this brings you hope on this very Good Friday, and may you go out and give hope to someone else this weekend.

HE IS RISEN!

Blessings,

SuzyOakleySignature

If you need to talk about faith, Jesus, becoming a Christian or anything else you need help with, you can contact me here.

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley, writer • editor in faith, forgiveness, hope, Jesus, 2 comments

Need a great place to start? Try the Book of John

Is somebody trying to tell me something?

My pastor is preaching a series called “The Gospel According to John.”

Last week, when I finished the short reading plan I had been doing in the Bible App (there’s that app again!), I clicked “discover” to see what plan I might want to start next.

What popped up first?

Two studies on … you guessed it: John! (I opted in to both.)

Bible page - Book of John
Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

Yesterday, Brent preached on my favorite chapter in the book: John 15 (I am the vine; you are the branches).

I’ve loved John 15 ever since discovering a life-changing little book several years ago called “Secrets of the Vine” by Bruce Wilkinson. You really should read it. It’s short on pages but long on impact. (Remember “The Prayer of Jabez” from the 1990s? Same author, same impact: short but powerful.)

In last week’s email, I referred my subscribers to The Bible Project and the John study I had just started. Don’t worry; not every day’s reading contains a busy, fast-paced video. In this plan, some days you’re just reading a passage, no video. Even though I love the videos (such creativity packed with information), sometimes I just want a meaty passage in a textual format. This has the best of both worlds. 🙂 

And then there’s J. Vernon McGee’s 21-day study, “Gospel of John: What it Means to Believe Jesus.” If you want written commentary with your verses, this is your plan.

Layer upon layer, word upon word — whether it’s visual, textual or oral, God is immersing me in the words and teachings of John.

Did I mention I recently finished a reading plan on Revelation? (Insert laughing emoji.)

This immersion is reminding me that I need to be connected to the true Vine, Jesus Christ, if life is to make sense – if I want to have a Kingdom impact on the world.

What about you?

If you’re not a big reader or are perhaps intimidated by the Bible, I think the Book of John is a great place to start. Its language is straightforward and easy to read. Many people suggest the book as a starting place when they encounter a non-Christian who wants to learn about our God. “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.”

Looking for your next reading plan? You can’t go wrong with John!

I must admit that, even though I love John, another book in the New Testament is my favorite (it was my dad’s fave, too). Stay tuned; I’ll let you in on it pretty soon.

Do you have a favorite book, passage or story from the Bible? Spill the beans! Leave a comment and share it with the rest of us.

Blessings,

SuzyOakleySignature

If you like what you see here, consider subscribing for weekly updates, and please share with a friend you think might be encouraged by what I share.

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley, writer • editor in reading, 0 comments

A little bitty announcement – I’m a published author!!!

Bruce and I typically don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day — at least in ways that cost money. No offense if you get all giddy about (and dressed up for) the Feb. 14 observance. It’s just not our jam, anymore — at least now that we’re a broke married couple. 🙂

The anthology What We Love is free on Amazon for a few days, starting Feb. 13.

I prefer to celebrate February as Black History Month and American Heart Month.

No, I’m not black, but I did have heart surgery a few years ago and I wear my little Origami Owl locket with the red ribbon charm and the tiny little Heart Beat charm during February. (Scroll to the bottom of this post if you want to support our Force for Good program by purchasing those charms.)

You may wonder what all this red ribbon heartbeat Valentine’s Day talk has to do with my headline. Well …

Feb. 14 is our big ol’ promotion day for the anthology I collaborated on with 100 other authors (yes, this is a book with 101 authors).

The e-book, called What We Love, is out now on Amazon Kindle, and Valentine’s Day is the big push. (So I guess the Oakley household will be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year!)

Good news: Today (Feb. 13) and maybe for a few more days the e-book is FREE.

Also good news: You do NOT have to have a Kindle device to read this book. You can download the Kindle app wherever you download your apps, and then read it on whatever device you use, including your computer.

I don’t know how long it will be free (maybe five days?), so if you want it, you’d better click now and get it before you forget.

By the way, I didn’t participate in this community book project for the money, which is actually $0 for the authors.

That’s right; we authors aren’t getting paid. The editor, Donna Kozik, gets the proceeds, and she deserves every penny. She has spearheaded several of these community book projects, organized dedicated editing binges (the whole community editing one another’s essays together), put up with our endless questions — “Remind me: What’s the deadline?” “When does it go live?” “When do we start promoting it?” “Is there an image of the cover I can use on social media?” “When will it be free?” (until I’m sure she’s ready to flee the country, but I’m sure one of us would still track her down) — hired people to design the cover, promotional graphics and all that stuff, and handled the million other details involved in getting a book published on Amazon and promoted to the world.

She has earned the $$.

I participated in this project for a lot of reasons, even though there was no paycheck. 🙂

And Valentine’s Day is when we hope this sweet little book becomes a bestseller.

If you’d like to help make that happen, please download the book here — remember it’s free for a few days (and always free on Kindle Unlimited) — write a review if you’re so inclined, and feel free to share this post or the link to the book.

Thanks in advance!

Blessings,

SuzyOakleySignature
Origami Owl has these charms available in its Force for Good section. Proceeds aid charitable organizations and individual families.
Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley, writer • editor in books, reading, writing, 0 comments

How can we forgive? Hear from someone who’s been there

If you’ve known me for more than 30 seconds, you know I love me some Bible App. 🙂 

I’ve been using this digital version of the Bible for several years now (on my phone, my iPad and my computer), and I’ve done many of the devotional plans — some yearlong (read the entire Bible in a year) and some just a few days.

The video below is from a five-day plan I’m loving this week, and each day’s video is a blessing and a challenge. Forgive those who persecute me? Love my enemies? Ouch!

But let the Rev. Dr. Bernice A. King challenge you to love, forgive and be a light in the darkness. Dr. King certainly has reason to harbor bitterness, but let her show you how she has learned to overcome it (and it is still a journey, she admits).

This 3-minute video is from Day 4 (because that’s the day I’m on as I write this), but every stinkin’ one of these messages is awesome. I’ve wanted to share all of them with you every day!

If you want to watch all of them, go to the Bible App and sign up for Cultivating a Heart of Mercy.

Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley, writer • editor in Bible, forgiveness, 0 comments

A new direction — making Jesus known

I’ve been blogging since 2007, starting with Suzy & Spice, where I shared things about my life. I still love that “big sister blog,” but it hasn’t been my primary means of communication in a couple of years. In 2015, a year after being certified as a wellness coach, I started To Well With You, which I referred to as my “fitness, wellness and running blog.” My tagline was “Your travel companion on the journey to well-being.”

There, I defined wellness broadly. It could mean physical fitness, spiritual health … even the health of your family relationships.

I was trying to be all things to all people. I wanted to reach everyone with my message. But I wasn’t laser focused on what my message was.

It’s been said that when you try to reach everyone, you reach no one.

In other words, I need to “niche down,” as they say. To narrow my focus. I want to attract the people who are truly interested in my message that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

So that’s what I’m doing.

Throughout all my pursuits, my main aim has been to share my Christian faith — sometimes out in the open, sometimes simply in the way I interact with people or how I write about a topic. Jesus has always been the foundation of my life, my writing and my work, even when His name wasn’t explicitly stated.

Now, His name is going to be mentioned a lot in this space. I’m dedicating it to Him.

Along the way, I’m studying Christian apologetics (that’s a fancy way of saying: knowing what you believe and why you believe it so that you can “give an answer … for the hope that is in you” — 1 Peter 3:15)

At first I thought I would share my apologetics journey on the To Well With You blog (I even thought the name was still fitting 🙂 ) and that I’d keep  SuzyOakley.com as my author and editor site (I offer freelance editing services when I’m not at my day job, and I’m writing a book about my experience of being a Christian married to an atheist). But after getting some feedback from fellow writers and website experts, I decided to keep everything here, stop trying to post everywhere (or fret when I failed to) and have SuzyOakley.com be the home base for all my blog content.

As I write this, the site is somewhat under construction. The menus might lead you to a “hire me” page … or they may lead you nowhere. I apologize in advance for any confusion or inconvenience.

Please be patient as this evolves. I’m tweaking the content, as well as the navigation and the look of the website (images, fonts, colors, menus) and anything else I run across the needs updating.

I’m not sure whether I’ll try to relabel my social media accounts, but right now they are branded with To Well With You. (I’ll be consulting with my social media friends about that.)

If you have expertise in these areas or notice something I missed, please feel free to let me know. I’m sure there are a million things I’ll miss as I update everything. (Thanks in advance.)

If you subscribe to To Well With You and would like to transition to the SuzyOakley.com mailing list, let me know. If you want to unsubscribe from all my content, I understand (and we can still be friends).

I love everyone who has supported me thus far, and I look forward to being with you on the new adventure.

I hope this all makes sense. I’ve stayed up past my bedtime to write it, and that is always dangerous!

Blessings,

SuzyOakleySignature
Posted by Suzy Taylor Oakley, writer • editor in reading, 2 comments
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