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    18 New Year Scriptures to encourage you and give you hope in 2021

    Written by Madeline Kalu

    2020 is a year that many of us bade a cheerful farewell to.

    The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus took away a normalcy that many of us had previously taken for granted, caused serious financial and socio-economic disruption, and challenged our hope for the future.

    That advent of every new year is marked noticeably by a renewal of hope for a better future, a motivation to change, and a desire for new beginnings. Making New Year’s resolutions, like starting that new diet or taking up a new hobby, are just a few of the habits and mindsets that lay testimony to this.

    However, with the arrival of 2021, our need for consolation that this year is going to be better than last year is more apparent than ever.

    For that reason, we at Jacob’s Ladder have compiled a list of 18 Scriptures that we believe will encourage you and give you hope in 2021.

    Note: Our Bible reference of choice is the NRSV, unless otherwise stated.

    Isaiah 43:19–“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

    1. Isaiah 43:19–“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

    A desert or wilderness is a landscape that has long been exposed to unruly desolation. It can be associated with circumstances in our lives where we have experienced defeat, felt hopelessness, or endured failure. 

    However, where we see only a hopeless situation, God sees potential for change. He can reverse any arid landscape and cause waters to flow through it, returning dead vegetation to life and giving it a new beginning. 

    In 2021, God is going to revive situations in your life you assumed to be dead and re-open doors of opportunity and favor for you!

    (Photo by sgcdesignco on Unsplash)

    2. Jeremiah 29:11 “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

    From before we were in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5), God knew us and had a good plan for our lives. This plan includes living a fulfilled life with eager anticipation for the future. 

    At times, through prayer and revelation, we may be blessed to gain an insight into what God’s plans for our individual lives may entail. However, for the most part, God does not reveal His intentions for us, so that we may continue to trust and rely on Him, and give Him glory, instead of giving ourselves credit for life’s victories.

    What is important to remember is that God keeps His promises. Therefore, regardless of what adversity we may encounter, may it be a global pandemic, financial struggles, or health issues – God’s promise of provision, direction, and hope that He declares in Jeremiah 29:11 will prevail over everything else.  

    3. Psalm 118:24 – “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

    With the dawn of each new day, there is so much that we can be grateful to God for. First and foremost, He allowed us to wake up and be alive to see another day! This is a day that He has scheduled into your life timeline, and He has great and wonderful plans as to how you should spend it. 

    Your hope for a better future starts TODAY – with this day that the Lord has given you. 

    Therefore, instead of envisioning how much better things could be when this pandemic is over, or that you can start to enjoy life only after you have finished paying your bills, enjoy this day – with all its ups and downs – and appreciate the blessings that God has allowed you to experience in it.

    2 Corinthians 5:17– “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

    4. 2 Corinthians 5:17– “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

    Once you have entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ, the old version of you is gone and instead, you have a new beginning as a Child of God. 

    As an extension, the earthly values, societal pressures, fear, and worry which used to oppress you are rendered insignificant in comparison to the values that God wishes His children to abide under, such as to love one another (1 John 4:7), to abide in peace (John 14:27) and to trust Him and rest whilst He fights our battles for us (Exodus 14:14).

    (Photo by Candice Picard on Unsplash)

    5. Philippians 3:13-14 –“Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own, but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”

    The imagery presented in this Scripture of our lifespan being compared to running a race is an apt way of encouraging us to stop looking at the past and instead, focus our attention on God’s promises for the future.

    Although 2020 was a difficult year for us, let us refuse to dwell in the past, and instead, ask God to direct our path towards reaching the goals He has set before us for 2021, which should include loving and helping others, and claiming His blessings over our lives.

    6. Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

    This is such a beautiful Bible verse, as it claims the source of our strength and power – Jesus Christ.

    Through the grace of Jesus, which we receive by faith, we are infused with an eternal source of energy, which He uses to charge us and rejuvenate us with.

    Consequently, when we are confronted with a situation that would otherwise overwhelm us, we can instead rely on the power of Jesus Christ and be confident of victory through the assurance that comes from being backed up by the divine majesty of Christ.

    Although the difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic may have followed us into 2021, know that you can face them and other challenges that may come your way with a fully charged battery pack of Christ’s power!

    Proverbs 23:18 – “Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”

    7. Proverbs 23:18 – “Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”

    When it comes to an assurance of hope for the future, there are few Bible verses that claim God’s promises on this subject more than this one.

    I love this Scripture as it evokes an expectation of good things to come. I hope that it evokes in you an expectation for the good things that God has planned for you for 2021.

    (Photo by Jose Llamas on Unsplash)

    8. Psalm 20:4 – “May He grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your plans.”

    May the desires of our hearts be not of superficial or fleshly pursuits, but rather, may they be in accordance with the desires of God and that He may fulfill these plans for each and every one of us in 2021.

    9. Isaiah 40:31 – “But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

    Did you know that when an eagle encounters a storm, it determinedly flies into it? It uses the tempest to mount itself upward until it reaches the heights above the storm where the sun is.

    The Hebrew translation for “mount up” is alah, which means “to go up over a boundary or to ascend.” Just as the eagle is equipped with the strength to ascend in triumph over the storm, so too, does God give strength to us when we seek Him, which enables us to triumph over our adversities.

    Isaiah 65:17 – “For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.”

    10. Isaiah 65:17 – “For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.”

    In Genesis 1:1 it states that in the beginning, “God created the heavens and the earth.” God was pleased with His creation and deemed it “good”.

    However, since the fall of Adam and Eve and their forced exit from the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3, earth has become an increasingly broken place, with one of the consequences being the onslaught of the COVID-19 virus.

    In Isaiah 65:17, God promises that He will create new heavens and a new earth – He is making a clean slate. This doesn’t mean that He will annihilate our current existence, but it does mean that our Father is a God of new beginnings and that He will additionally heal us from the pain of the past.

    (Photo by Vijay Sutrave on Unsplash)

     11. Job 8:7 (CEV) – “Your future will be brighter by far than your past.”

    What an encouraging Bible verse! 

    God keeps His promises, therefore we can enter 2021 with confidence, knowing that God will make this year better than the previous one. 

    Watch with wonder how God will take the small beginnings you made last year – at work, with new relationships, with health, and with your finances – and increase them exponentially. 

    Troubles that previously burdened you will have no effect on you, long-standing ailments and illnesses will be healed, and broken relationships will be repaired in Jesus’ name!

    Just keep believing and keep walking in faith!

    12. Ezekiel 36:26 – “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you, and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

    Have you noticed that the heart of man, in general, has become progressively colder, self-centered, and full of malice and hate?

    In 2020, we experienced significant displays of these characteristics through the outbreaks of racial protest as a reaction to racial discrimination, racial profiling, and police violence. 

    Even our kids did not go through 2020 unscathed from discrimination and hate. Statistics from last year reveal that more kids around the world were falling prey to cyberbullying and the numbers are rising. 

    Is this truly the way we want to interact with each other?

    Is this the kind of 2021 we want to experience as a global entity?

    It doesn’t have to be. In Ezekiel 36:26, God offers to replace the cold and unyielding hearts of anyone who wishes to enter into a relationship with Him and to replace it with a cleansed and changed heart that is filled with the Spirit of God. 

    Lamentations 3:22-23 – “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

    13. Lamentations 3:22-23 – “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

     This is such a comforting Bible verse as it not only declares God’s everlasting love for us, but also His endless outpouring of mercy.

    No matter how things were in the past for you in 2020, this is a new year, with fresh mercies that God provides you with every morning to confidently approach each day’s challenges, adventures, and discoveries.

    (Photo by Chris Liu-Beers on Unsplash)

    14. Romans 8:31 – “What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”

    In this Bible verse, the contrasting prepositions of “for” and “against” give a wonderful illustration of how God is always on our side and fights on our behalf. 

    Therefore, we need not become anxious or worry when a situation appears to be “against” us, as there is no power, person, or circumstance that is mightier than our Father who is “for” us!

    15.  Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”

    A friend once told me, that if she were to reject God and instead be completely self-reliant on making her way through life, she would not last even one day. Her life is fulfilled, she is full of peace and wisdom, and is a blessing to others as a result of her admitting that she needs God in her life. She trusts God with all her heart.

    In the same way, God will guide your life in 2021, open doors that others have closed, give you spiritual revelation, and enable you to live a life of peace and joy, if you choose to put your trust in Him and not in yourself.

    Psalm 40:3 – “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”

    16. Psalm 40:3 – “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”

    I love this Bible verse as it proclaims the joy, relief, and gratitude that the psalmist King David experiences after being delivered from a bleak, unbearable situation, which he describes as a “desolate pit, a miry bog” (Psalm 40:2).

    Instead of leaving David to his miserable fate, God “set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure” (Psalm 40:2). In response to being freed and in gratitude for the new beginning he has been gifted, David opens his mouth in praise to God.

    In 2021, God will also deliver you from the burdens, pain, and despair that weighed you down last year. When He does so, be like David, and audibly show God your gratitude by thanking Him and praising Him for His goodness and mercy! 

    When people see how God has rescued you from situations where a human solution was not possible, and you give Him all the glory for your deliverance, others will see that and also put their trust in God.

    ( Photo by Hudson Hintze on Unsplash)

    17. Ephesians 4:22-24 – “You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

    The advent of a new year is a prime opportunity to renew yourself – to focus on new priorities, think more positively about yourself and others, and to gain a new perspective in your spiritual life, and become more intimate with God.

    This year, make it a priority to focus less on what the world deems as important, and instead, aim to spend more time with God and His Word in order that you may grow spiritually, experience revelation, and be a blessing to others.

    18. Matthew 7:7 – “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.”

    This final Bible verse in our list summarizes with three verbs how we can greet 2021 with encouragement, hope, and faith in new beginnings:

    Ask:  God is not a fictitious figure who resides in Heaven on a golden throne, nor is He a cold-hearted harbinger of justice to hapless sinners on earth. God loves us and wishes to have a relationship with us. Just like a father loves a child, and will do anything to provide for him, so does God loves us and wish to look after us. 

    Therefore, do not be afraid to reverently ask God when you need His help. In Hebrews 4:16 it states that we can “approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

    Seek: It’s a life-changing decision to enter a relationship with God, but it doesn’t end there. In order to spiritually grow and mature, we need to keep on seeking God’s face. This means, spending time in His Word, allotting time every day to just sit quietly and be in His presence and pray and worship Him. 

    The more time you spend in seeking God, the more intimate you will grow in your relationship with Him, which also includes hearing His voice better and trusting His ways over your own. If you do all this, you will have such revelation of His purpose over your life and He will lead you on paths of blessings and growth that you never deemed possible!

    Knock: When we knock on a door, we are intentionally arousing the attention of the person on the other side, in order that he or she may open it. Knocking implies an earnest request to seek communication and an expectation that new possibilities are “literally” opening up for us.

    In the same way, when God brings new opportunities our way in 2021, let us be open to receive them. It may require coming out of our comfort zone, it may be a bit scary, or even demand that we learn new skills or change our priorities. However, our lives will be all the more richer for it. 

    In fact, let us be proactive and work together with God to make the dreams and goals He has put on our hearts a reality this year. Start that online shop you’ve been meaning to open, form the online women’s church group that God has put on your heart. Donate to that charity you’ve been meaning to send money to. 

    Your boldness in being open to new opportunities will not only benefit you but will additionally help make this world a better place for everyone. So, start knocking! 

    If you found our selection of 18 New Year Bible verses encouraging, we have created a digital set of these Scriptures for you to download and print. They are available from our Etsy Shop “Faith Love Life Designs”.

    Set of 18 printable New Year Bible verse cards

    Use these Bible verse cards for Bible study purposes, for memorizing Scripture, or to supplement your Bible journaling. They also make great inserts for greeting cards, books, packages, as well as serving as bookmarks. You can also stick these Scripture cards on your fridge, mirrors, frames, etc. around your home for additional encouragement.

    Our Bible verse cards are a great aid to help you study the Word of God.

    To shop our set of 18 New Year Bible verse cards, click here.


    Our 18 New Year Bible verse cards are also available in travel size.

    Set of 18 printable New Year Bible verse cards – travel size

    We hope you enjoyed reading our article and are feeling encouraged and hopeful for what God will be doing in your life in 2021. 

    If you would like to receive more motivating Christian content from us, feel free to sign up to our email list (on the right-hand sidebar) and be notified when we upload our latest posts. Additionally, we will be providing our subscribers with offers and free gifts, so that’s definitely something to look forward to!

    From all of us at Jacob’s Ladder, we wish you a wonderful 2021 full of God’s peace, mercy, and love. 

    Stay safe and blessed,

    Co-Founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog

    To shop our selection of Christian printable art, scriptures, prayers, and more, visit our Etsy shop at faithlovelifedesigns.etsy.com.

    Sources:

    christianity.com, “Does Jeremiah 29:11 Have Meaning for Us Today?”, Glory Dy.

    charismamag.com, “The Isaiah 43:19 Solution for Your Hopeless Situation”, Joyce Meyer.

    dailyverse.knowing-jesus.com, “What Does Psalm 118:24 Mean?”

    bibleref.com, “2 Corinthians 5:17 Parallel Verses“

    biblehub.com, “Philippians 3:13-14“

    studylight.org, “Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary – Philippians 4:13”

    spiritmeat.net, “The Power of Expectation – Proverbs 23:18”

    bestirrednotshaken.com, “Studying Psalm 20:4 – Our Heart’s Desire and Accomplishing Our Plans“

    gotquestions.org, “What does it mean to mount up with wings like eagles?”

    sermonwriter.com, “Biblical Commentary Isaiah 65:17-25”, Richard Niell Donovan.

    desiringgod.org, “Today’s Mercies for Today’s Troubles”, John Piper.

    studylight.org, “Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary Job 8:7“

    comparitech.com, “Cyberbullying facts and statistics for 2020”, Sam Cook.

    dailyverse.knowing-jesus.com, “What Does Ezekiel 36:26 Mean?”

    thefellowship.site, “God is For Us – Romans 8:31-34”

    biblehub.com,  “Psalm 40:3“

    desiringgod.org, “Put on the New Person”, John Piper.

  • Articles

    5 Creative ways to remember God’s goodness in 2020

    Written by Madeline Kalu

    I guess it’s safe to say that 2020 has been one of the most challenging years we have had to face, not only as individuals but as a global entity.

    What with dealing with daily infection updates, feeling anxiety about the future, and adapting to the COVID lifestyle in general, we can easily overlook the times that God has blessed us with His goodness, mercy, and even miracles during this year.

    King David wrote in Psalm 23:5 (NRSV) that the Lord “prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” David knew that God’s goodness was always present, even amidst adversity and strife. By penning Psalm 23, David ensured a creative way of reminding himself of this important truth.

    Therefore, as the year draws to a close, here are five creative ways that we, too, can remember God’s goodness in 2020.

    1. Start a Gratitude Journal

    “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

    1 Thessalonians 5:18

    We don’t need to wait until the New Year arrives to start keeping a journal, especially one where we can record our gratitude as a response to God’s mercy and grace in our lives.

    A gratitude journal is a great way of recording daily acts of God’s goodness, that can otherwise go unnoticed amidst the hectic and challenges of our current, pandemic lifestyle.

    By reading regularly over our entries, we can gain revelation of just how much God showed us His love and provision this year in ways we didn’t perceive at the time.

    Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

    2. Make a Miracle Jar

    “He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.”

    Deuteronomy 10:21

    My husband and l like to use a Miracle Jar to remember the times that God brought us extraordinary favor and provision – divine miracles – that we could never conceive as humanly possibly.

    We take a large glass jar and write down all of God’s miracles that we experience on pieces of paper and store them in the jar. Then, as a family, we regularly read each slip of paper aloud and give thanks for each wonderous act of God’s goodness.

    Having our Miracle Jar has made my husband and l aware of just how much God intervened on our behalf in 2020, when we didn’t see a way out of situations in our own strength.

    You may ask what the difference is between a Gratitude Journal and a Miracle Jar?

    We record daily acts of God’s goodness in our Gratitude journal e.g. restful sleep, the encouraging conversations with people we met that day, or that God left that last jar of pesto on the supermarket shelf for me when l really wanted pesto!

    In our Miracle Jar, we have recorded acts of blessings such as financial provision, healing from sickness and pain, successful exam results, and more.

    Photo by Naganath Chiluveru on Unsplash

    3. Keep a Prayer journal

    “Do not worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

    Philippians 4:6

    Keeping a prayer journal not only helps you keep track of your prayer lists and requests, it is also a wonderful way to remember God’s blessed responses to your petitions.

    I personally like to dedicate a double page in my prayer journal for each spiritual request. On the left-hand side of the double page l write down the date, who l am praying for, and what their needs are. Sometimes, l even write a formal prayer that l can read out loud during my quiet time with the Lord.

    When God provides an answer to my prayer, l record His response on the right-hand side of the double page, including the date when my prayer was answered.

    Being able to see my written prayer petitions and how God answered them on the same page makes it easier for me to read over former entries and appreciate how God heard me in my time of need and answered my prayers.

    It also encourages me that God will answer my remaining prayers, which motivates me to keep on praying until l see a change!

    Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

    4. Keep God’s Word as a visual reminder

    “..but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
        and on His law they meditate day and night.

    Psalm 1:2

    The most effective way to remember the blessings and favor that God promises us in His Word is to keep Scripture constantly before us as a visual reminder.

    To help you achieve this, print the Bible verses that speak the most to you about God’s goodness, frame them, and hang them in your home as wall art.

    Alternatively, you can cut out your favorite Bible verses and paste them in a Scripture scrapbook or write them out by hand.

    Whatever method you choose, the most important thing is that we read our chosen Bible verses regularly to remind ourselves of God’s love and mercy towards us.

    Photo by Tim Wildsmith on Unsplash

    5. Be a Living Reminder For Others

    “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 

    In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

    Matthew 5:14-16

    What better way to remember all the ways that God came through for you this year, than by showing the love and mercy of Jesus Christ to others?

    If God has blessed you with mobility and health, then consider helping your elderly or sick neighbors by offering to do their shopping for them. Ring a friend, who is experiencing difficulty as a consequence of the COVID-19 and let them know you’re there for them. If you see a homeless person on the streets, why not buy them a cup of coffee or a sandwich?

    You can even get your kids involved by encouraging them to write letters to the inhabitants of senior citizen homes, which will help them feel less isolated.

    In such unprecedented times, there are many who desperately need to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Shine His light that lives within you and illuminate this dark and broken world!

    Although 2020 is a year that most of us are happy to put behind us, let us not forget that this has also been a year where God has shown us some of His biggest blessings and has provided for us in ways that seemed otherwise impossible.

    Like the Israelites, who in Joshua 4:1-7 set up 12 memorial stones from the River Jordan as a unique reminder of God’s provision and favor during their greatest period of adversity, so too, can we remember that God is always good, and that neither a virus, nor the associated adversity arising from it can keep us away from His love, nor can it prevent us from receiving His goodness and mercy!

  • Articles

    3 Prayers to Refresh Your Weary Soul Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Written by Madeline Kalu

    When news of the global spread of the COVID-19 virus broke at the beginning of this year, l was concerned. Though human civilization has been subjected to numerous epidemics and pandemics throughout history, it still came as a shock to me that we would experience the spread of a virus in such vast proportions in our lifetime. I’m sure you can all relate with me.


    2020 has been the year that has taught us how to act and react. It started with living the lockdown life and progressed into the summer months, with travel restrictions, mandatory testing, and increased infection rates as a consequence of summer tourism.


    Now, for those like me who live in the northern hemisphere, the winter season is approaching and with it, a growing trepidation of the effects of the Coronavirus on the population during the colder months.


    After ten months of living the COVID-19 life, l for one, have become weary. I’m tired of feeling anxious for my health and that of my loved ones, l’m desperate for church fellowship, and l yearn for some semblance of normalcy again.


    I need a refresher, a pick-me-up. I need to know that l can lay down my weary soul and find rest and comfort. And the only One l know, who can provide me with all of that is God.


    Spending time with Him in His word, talking to Him through prayer and supplication is the Balm of Gilead that l need to feel strengthened and renewed.


    If your soul too, is weary and down-trodden from the effects and consequences of the COVID-19 virus, l hope that the following three prayers inspired by the Bible verses Matthew 11:28 (NRSV), Psalm 23:1-3, and Isaiah 40:31 ease your tired soul and refresh you with renewed energy and strength.

    God offers rest to the weary

    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give
    you rest.”
    Matthew 11:28


    This Bible verse gives me so much comfort. It means that when l tense up about COVID regulations and worn down by anxiety about the future, l can take my burdens to God and He will give me rest.


    If you, like me, are in dire need of rest, l hope that the following prayer encourages you to cast your burdens on God and rest in His presence:



    God refreshes our souls

    “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
    He leads me beside quiet waters,
    He refreshes my soul.
    He guides me along the right paths
    for His name’s sake.”
    Psalm 23:1-3

    In this psalm, King David draws a parallel from his own experience of tending his father’s flock, to describe how God is his personal shepherd, who provides for him, establishes his path, and offers his soul rest and refreshment.


    God is indeed the good shepherd who will always prioritize the well-being of us, His sheep.


    If you too, like me, need God to guide you to rest in His presence and refresh your soul, l hope that the following prayer encourages you:




    God renews our strength

    “But those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
    They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.”
    Isaiah 40:31

    I don’t know why the world has been afflicted by the COVID-19 virus, but l do know that my hope lies in God to heal those infected, and to provide a vaccine and even a cure against future Coronavirus pandemics.


    How God will do this, l don’t know, but just having hope in Him and believing in His goodness and mercy renews my strength to keep dealing with restrictions, social distancing, and regular testing, because l know that God is working in our current global situation.


    I hope that the following prayer fills you with hope and that you experience a renewal of God’s strength:




    God sees the toll that this current pandemic is having upon us. Therefore, while He sorts out this global situation with His perfect timing, let us answer His call to comfort us; let us rest our weary souls in His loving embrace and be refreshed and restored by His mercy and spiritual power.

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband, Solomon.

    Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety. She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.

  • Devotionals

    A Second Chance through Forgiveness

    Written by Madeline Kalu

    “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
    Colossians 3:13 (NIV)

    Thought of the Day:

    Forgiveness and understanding forms a bridge that promotes peace with our fellow man and undoes the damage caused by adversity.

    A few months ago, l had a memorable encounter with a lady, who taught me the value of second chances through her act of forgiveness.


    I had just left a doctor’s appointment and decided to pop into a shop, which was adjacent to the doctor’s office. When l am in public places, l always have headphones on, as l suffer from social anxiety and am particularly sensitive to noise. However, as l had removed my headphones for my doctor’s appointment, l didn’t think it was worth donning them to make a quick purchase.


    I was perusing some items on a shelf, when an unexpectedly loud cry made me literally jump in the air. I clutched my chest and felt my heart beating a staccato rhythm underneath my ribcage.


    l turned around slowly to uncover the source of the noise: A mother was standing near me with a 3-year old girl in a stroller. The toddler was upset, which was evident through her loud cries and failing limbs, complete with tightly clenched fists.


    I felt sorry for the girl, as well as for her mother, the latter who was visibly at a loss as to how to soothe her child. l fervently hoped that the lady hadn’t noticed my involuntary reflex towards her child’s outburst. Unfortunately, she had.


    “You don’t need to behave so distastefully towards us!” she barked at me. “My goodness, she is only a child!”


    I was so embarrassed. I turned to the lady and tried to explain my predicament and how I felt no animosity towards her baby.


    Oh, why didn’t l just put on my headphones? l lamented to myself.


    Still offended, the lady stormed out of the shop. l felt just awful. I was about to look for the lady outside, when she suddenly reappeared.


    “I apologize,” she said gently. “I’ve had a hard day with my girl. I heard you when you said you had health problems, and l felt sorry for you. I had to come back and tell you that.”


    “No, it is me, who should apologize!” l exclaimed with relief. “Raising a child is hard, and l so admire you! I wanted to find you and tell you that!”


    We spent the next 30 minutes talking, and I was grateful for the second chance this lady gave me to make amends by forgiving me.


    This experience was an important reminder for me that God forgave us for our sins through the blood sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ; His gift of Salvation is our second chance at eternal righteousness with our heavenly Father. Thank You, Lord!

    Prayer:

    Thank You for forgiving us for our sins and offering us a second chance at eternal life through Your gift of Salvation. Help us to forgive others like You forgave us. Amen.

    This devotional was published on PresbyCan Devotionals on the 3rd of September 2020.

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband, Solomon. Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety. She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.

  • Personal testimonies

    Black and White Notes – A Poem About Interracial Friendships

    “If you want to play beautiful music, you must play the black and white notes together.”

    Richard Nixon

    This quote from Richard Nixon inspired me to write a poem about my three closest friends, who happen to be Caucasian.

    Black and White Notes

    By Madeline Kalu

    The first hesitant notes of a new composition,

    Fingers running over scales, wrists relaxing,

    Our individual melodies harmonize with each other,

    Humoresque comments synchronized by chords of mirth and laughter,

    Royal excitement of sharing adventures in a foreign land.

    A song is created, a rhythm is established,

    Tapas evenings and girly chats,

    You perform your Friday dance with allegro,

    A weekend salute with a Bombay orignal.

    We attend the Queen Bee’s court and deeply dig the groove,

    And spend lazy summer evenings enjoying Hạ Long Bay.

    I share makeup tricks with you in Antwerp,

    We honor the fallen soldiers at the Menin Gate,

    You teach me new songs in Brussels, Berlin, Liverpool, and Dover.

    As l waltz barefoot on moonlit cobbled stones across the Grand-Place,

    You hold my shoes,

    And compose melodies that make me laugh and inspire me to create.

    We bear the brunt of life’s elegies together:

    The pain of losing loved ones to cancer,

    The fear of missing out on life’s opportunities,

    The fight to be free of our demons,

    The yearning of what it would be like to be happy.

    You make up the major chords and l the minor ones,

    You are the white notes – l am the black,

    Together, we create a symphony that has been playing for many years.

    Our arrangement does not see skin color,

    It does not judge or remember past mistakes.

    Instead, our music is an expression of our respect and acceptance,

    We live our friendship with rubato – with freedom.

  • Devotionals

    A love reaction to racism

    Thought of the Day:

    When faced with persecution, l will remember the love of Christ and bless those who seek to mistreat me.  

    “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.”

    Romans 12:14 (NRSV)

    My husband Solomon and I have been living in Germany for many years as expatriates. I am British and Solomon is Nigerian. We are well integrated with the traditions and social intricacies of the German culture, and we speak the language fluently.

    In the past few years, I have become increasingly concerned about the growing presence of xenophobia in Germany. A few months ago, my husband was personally confronted with racial prejudice.

    Solomon was entering a train, when a young man stepped forward and barred his progress. He looked angry, and his hands were balled into tight fists.

    “Hey, you, foreigner,” the young man said gruffly. “Go back to your own country, and stop taking our jobs!”

    Solomon was sorely tempted just to ignore the man. He was very tired and just wanted to get home. However, he saw that his persecutor was pale, gaunt, and poorly dressed. This individual had clearly gone through some hard times. Solomon felt sorry for him.

    Smiling at the man, Solomon replied, “I can see that you’re angry. But I am not your enemy.”

    Taking advantage of the man’s shocked silence, Solomon continued, “Anger and resentment are costing you your health. Turn those negative emotions into positive thoughts that can change your mindset and ultimately your life.”  My husband is a great admirer of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and his ministry of preaching God’s Word in combination with the principles of positive thinking.  

    Suddenly, the man’s mask of bravado evaporated. He admitted to Solomon that he was unemployed and living below the existence minimum. Out of frustration, he had joined a right-wing political party that cultivated animosity towards foreigners by targeting them as the cause for Germany’s socio-economic problems.

    Later, when they both disembarked from the train, Solomon wrote down the title of Dr. Peale’s bestseller The Power of Positive Thinking and offered it to the young man. Solomon told him about how a relationship with God and an application of thinking positively had changed his own life around – it could change his life, too.

    The young man took the piece of paper from Solomon eagerly, promising to read the book. As he walked away, gone were the former anger and bitterness that had been etched on his features; instead, the young man’s face was now full of hope and encouragement.

    Prayer:

    Wonderful Father,

    You tell us in 1 Peter 4:12, that we are not to be surprised when faced with persecution. Help us to react with love to those who mistreat us, for You opened out Your arms to give us Your redeeming love when our transgressions had made us Your enemy.

    In Jesus’ name, we pray.

    Amen.

    Delve Deeper:

    What if my husband had perceived this act of persecution as a threat and not as an opportunity to share God’s love and to set someone on the path towards a relationship with Jesus?

    Paul writes in Romans 12:14 that we should bless those who persecute us. The next time someone mistreats us, let us try to react to them as Christ would — with love and forgiveness. From personal experience, I know that it’s not always easy, but it is worth striving for, in order to further God’s kingdom on earth.

    Watch the video to “A Love Reaction to Racism”

    We have also made a short video about this devotional for you to watch!

  • Articles

    10 Tips on Looking After your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Written by Madeline Kalu

    At Jacob’s Ladder, we believe that having good mental health is important for everyone, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

    Statistics show that more people are suffering from depression, fear, and anxiety as a result of a change in their financial situation, the risk of infection, and the drastic change to their everyday existence as a result of self-quarantine and lockdown procedures.

    For that reason, we have made a list of 10 tips to help you look after your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    1.ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN A ROUTINE

    Work out a daily routine with set times for getting up, doing sport, meal times, and going to bed.

    Build up your daily routine my making a routine for the entire week.

    As part of your weekly routine, factor in chores like grocery shopping and even date nights and family evenings.

    2. BE ACTIVE

    Regular physical activity improves your mood and concentration, it reduces stress and depression, and improves the quality of your sleep.

    Do some form of exercise at least 3 times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes.

    To hold yourself accountable, work out with a member of your family, or if lockdown procedures allow it, meet up with a friend for a walk, jog, or even a bike ride in the park.

    3. HAPPY GUT, HAPPY LIFE

    Your gut produces 95% of your body’s serotonin, the happy hormone.

    Therefore, eat healthy foods like grains, fruits, vegetables, and proteins to help keep you emotionally stable.

    Replace sugary drinks with water, and reduce your alcohol consumption.

    4. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEELINGS

    It’s ok to feel anxious, fearful, and even angry about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects.

    However, try and not let your emotions dictate your mood.

    If emotional turmoil is shredding your nerves and stealing your joy, tell God about it, and ask Him to give you the strength to deal with what is bothering you.

    Also, confiding in your spouse, a member of your family, or even a close friend will help release some of the emotional tension you’re feeling.

    Too many times we keep our emotions bottled in,which can lead not only to mental disorders, but it can also result in physical ailments such as headaches, back pain, ulcers, and poor sleep quality.

    5. LIMIT YOUR NEWS CONSUMPTION

    Scouring the news for every latest update regarding the COVID-19 virus is not only going to increase your anxiety, it will also waste your time and prevent you from living your life.

    It is definitely sensible to be informed, but don’t overdo it!

    6. SPEND TIME WITH GOD

    If worry, anxiety, and fears regarding your welfare and the future of you and your family are affecting your peace of mind, turn to God and cast your mental burdens on Him.

    His promises of love, grace, protection, and provision will comfort you and give you hope.

    Make it a part of your daily routine to spend time with God. Treat that time as “you” time and don’t let anyone disrupt you.

    This could mean that you may need to get up slightly earlier than usual or wait until your family goes to bed in order to have your quiet time with God.

    7. AVOID “WHAT IF?” IF QUESTIONS

    Try to avoid postulating and procrastinating about the future: It’s only going to increase your stress levels and rob you of today’s joy.

    8. DO SOMETHING KIND FOR OTHERS

    Doing something kind for others will distract you from your own problems and enrich someone in need.

    It will also help you to appreciate what you may take for granted e.g. mobility, family.

    You can help others by offering to do grocery shopping for a neighbor, who is elderly or sick. Arrange to drop your purchases at the door to maintain social distancing.

    You can also offer to donate blood, help out in a soup kitchen, a food bank, a kindergarten, an animal rescue station, or ask your local hospital if they need volunteers.

    Financial donations are always welcome during this period of economic uncertainty.

    Some countries also offer initiatives to train people online to become digital counselors.

    In our free EBook “More than Conquerors through Christ”, we offer an extensive list of ways you can help others during the COVID-19 pandemic. To obtain a free copy of our EBook, click here.

    9. CONNECT

    The current pandemic has left many feeling cut-off from the rest of the world.

    If lockdown measures prevent you from meeting up with family and friends, give them a call, or organize a Skype or Zoom meeting.

    Otherwise, arrange to meet a friend in the park and go for a walk together. If restaurants are opening up again in your area, organize a coffee date or go out for a meal.

    10. BE GRATEFUL

    Show God gratitude by thanking Him for all the wonder things he does for you – no matter how small.

    Practicing gratitude will replace negative thoughts, boost your morale, and give you revelation of how much God blesses your life.

    Our family keeps a “Miracle Book”, where we write down all the miraculous and wonderful things that God does in our lives. When l find myself getting anxious, or having depressive thoughts, l read over some of our prior entries and feel comforted and reassured of God’s love, faithfulness, and provision.


    Maybe you could try keeping a “Miracle Book” as well. You could also use a “Miracle Jar” and record your writings on strips of paper.

    Also, try writing down three great things every day that God has done for you that day.

    We hope you found our 10 tips on how you can look after your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic useful, and that you enjoyed our video as well!

    Happy mental health, everyone!

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband, Solomon. Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety. She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.

  • Jacob's Ladder Artist's Page

    Allie Crummy Releases Her Debut Album and Has Peace Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Christian singer/songwriter, Allie Crummy, is releasing her debut album I Have Peace on April 10, 2020.

    Based in Des Moines, Iowa, Allie is a deep thinker, who processes life through writing songs that reflect the tension between what she believes to be true about God, contrasted with what she sees happening in the world around her. Her musical style draws from blues, folk, and soul influences, often utilizing three-part harmonies, and always delivering a melody that’s fun to sing through vocals that are brimming with emotion. 

    Allie brings a refreshing sound to the Christian contemporary music scene and provides honest lyrics with which many Christians are likely to identify.

    The inspiration behind the album

    When Allie set out to write, record, and release the album I Have Peace, she did not have a worldwide health crisis in mind.

    The songs on the album were written in response to what she has experienced over the course of the last five years – including a health crisis of her own, which was her inspiration for “I Have Peace”, the eponymous title track of the album.

    Additionally, “What He Gives Me” and “Out of My Head were written in response to watching friends walk through grief or major difficulties with mental health. Learning to be a better mother lead Allie to write “Our God is Compassionate”, and dealing with a divisive and calloused political atmosphere resulted in “How Long” and “Free Me Up”.

    How the themes in I Have Peace reflect our current global situation

    The themes presented in this album have a providentially pertinent voice for this moment in history.

    For example:

    Feeling uncertain about your health if you were to contract the Coronavirus?

    I don’t know what tomorrow will bring,

    But I know that trials will come,

    And I don’t know when the end will be for me

    But I have peace, I have peace, I have peace with God.”

    From “I Have Peace”

    Worried about your portfolio?

    “Out of my head and into Your hands,

    My anxious thoughts and my heavy burdens.”

    From “Out of My Head”

    Bogged down by the political discourse around the crisis?

    “I have competing voices in my head,

    They come from the left and from the right,

    I listen to them too much, but also not enough,

    I can’t tell what’s gray from black and white.”

    From “Free Me Up”

    Hope in the midst of confusion

    If there is a single unifying thread throughout the whole album, it is this: Hope can be found in the midst of confusion.

    The initial success of I have Peace

    Allie Crummy’s debut album I Have Peace has already enjoyed initial success. “How Long” has had radio play, “I Have Peace” has 30k streams on Spotify, and Allie has released music videos for two songs on the album – “I Have Peace” and “Our God is Compassionate” – which are both available on YouTube.

    Interested in listening to I Have Peace from Allie Crummy?

    You can listen to Allie Crummy’s debut album I Have Peace on Spotify. Just click here.

    Connect Further

    For further information, feel free to contact Allie per email: alliecrummymusic@gmail.com.

    You can also follow Allie on Instagram:  @alliecrummymusic

    Allie also has a Facebook page: @alliecrummymusic.

    Visit Allie’s Artist Page on Spotify.

    Allie Crummy is someone who has a lot to say, and it’s clear that she has more up her sleeve. Make sure you check out this fantastic debut album!

  • Jacob's Ladder Artist's Page

    Marianne Paluso – Life’s Bridges, God’s Timing, and the Puddin’ Pie Girls

    Jacob’s Ladder Blog is thrilled to welcome the artist Marianne Paluso to our Artist’s Page!

    When l first discovered Marianne’s artistic creativity, I could immediately see her love for children through the sweet and whimsical characters she painted; they evoked memories of the toys l had played with as a child, and the fun l had in dreaming and creating my own artwork. I was also drawn to Marianne’s attention to detail and the combination of soft and vibrant hues she uses, as well as her application of varying mediums such as watercolors, acrylics, and pastels.

    Upon increasing my acquaintance with her, l was moved by Marianne’s gentle, humble nature and her incredible heart to help others. It is Marianne’s fervent desire to bring clarity to those who question their purpose in life and to make them aware that God has a good plan for them. Life is full of seasons, Marianne states, and what doesn’t make sense to you in this season, God will use for your good in the next with His perfect timing. You are gifted, blessed, and His precious child, and His grace will always be with you.

    We hope you enjoy viewing Marianne’s artwork and listening to her songs, and that her story touches your heart as it did mine!

    “Just Breathe”

    Blog banner: “Showers of Blessings”

    Who l am

    My name is Marianne Paluso. I live in East Tennessee very near the Smoky Mountain National Park. I am a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. I am a retired nurse of 42 years; however, presently, I work as a stay-at-home artist.

    Marianne Paluso

    A life bridge and the truths l learned from walking across it

    I am so honored to be asked to participate in the Artist’s Page for Jacob’s Ladder Blog.

    I want to share some of my story that built a bridge between what I had hoped to become and what I eventually became.

    I have learned 2 valuable truths while walking across this life bridge:
    Truth No. 1
    – God’s timing is perfect.
    Truth No. 2 – I believe that we have different gifts for different seasons of our lives.

    An encouragement for those of you who are asking themselves, “What am l doing here?”

    I do hope that the life lessons l share with you in this space will speak to someone who may be reading this and asking themselves, “What am I doing here?”

    My childhood and how l discovered my love for the arts

    Let me start my story with my childhood.

    I had a wonderful time growing up on a farm in Ohio where I could wander about, enjoy nature, reach out and touch a dog, a pony, or a lamb. However, something was missing – other kids! I was very lonely and somewhat introspective. Out of this grew a great imagination. From early on, I was drawn to the arts.

    Music and painting were my love and my friend. In fact, l first colored and painted with my grandmother. Therefore, when I graduated from high school, l enrolled in college to study art.

    “Happy Farm Girl “

    A career change

    However, during this time my dad became critically ill and died. My mother decided to pull me from art school and enroll me in a nursing program. She reasoned that an artist “would starve in a ditch”.

    I was a nurse for 42 years. I did not resent the career change, because I learned to look at nursing as a healing art. The recipe for nursing includes skill, perseverance, much compassion, and sometimes even a pinch of humor.

    Additionally, I learned great empathy, which I have drawn upon many times in my writing and art.

    Music and incorporating God’s Word

    While working as a nurse, I needed a creative outlet. Therefore, I began writing and performing as a singer-songwriter, which I did for about 10 years.

    At that time, I wrote folk music from a Christian perspective. All of my songs are stories full of truth and symbolism, which point back to the gospel of Christ.

    My husband and I produced 2 albums. The first, Greener Grass, was very direct in its Christian message, and most of the songs were straight from Scripture. I will be re-releasing Greener Grass on my website Little House Treasures in the near future.

    The following is an audio recording of one of the songs on the Greener Grass album, “Tiny Baby’s Majesty”:

    “Tiny Baby’s Majesty” from the album Greener Grass


    The second album, Miss Lucy’s House, was more indirect in its scriptural nature; however, the symbolism is heavy between home and heaven. This album can be purchased on my website Little House Treasures.

    Album cover and CD of Miss Lucy’s House

    The following is an audio recording of “Miss Lucy’s House”, which is the lead track from the eponymous album Miss Lucy’s House:

    “Miss Lucy’s House” from the eponymous album Miss Lucy’s House

    I also had a small music ministry in surrounding states visiting colleges, festivals, and churches. I always felt that I wanted my music to reach everyone but especially those who did not know anything about Jesus.

    One time, I was doing a Passion Play pre-performance, where a group of high school students were attending. I overheard one of them ask, “Who was Jesus?”

    I couldn’t even imagine it at first, but yes – there are folks who don’t know who Jesus is!

    It became my mission to reach these people: I wanted to teach them about Jesus through my story songs.

    What happened to the music?

    At this point, I lost my brother. This affected me deeply, and I lost my way. As a result, I locked up my music studio and never went back.

    It took my heart a very long time to begin to heal. I battled anger and depression. I couldn’t listen to music, because it was too beautiful, yet too painful.

    My spirit was crushed but God knew me. He had plans for me. He was holding me up, as I walked across life’s bridge.

    What healed me?

    There were many tears after my brother passed away. However, what healed my heart was God’s continual quiet voice whispering, “Keep going, you are worth it.”

    I also was blessed by a godly husband, who stood by my side even when it was rough waters. When I was sinking, my husband was my comfort, my confidante, and my support.

    Further down the road, the birth of my first grandchild also healed my heart. Now l have a second grandchild! All are blessings and promises of God’s love.

    I want to say this: Never underestimate the prayers of your grandparents and the effect of those prayers on your life. Paul addresses this to Timothy in 2 Timothy1:5 (KJV). I know I was prayed for by my grandmother, and I pray for my children and their children. Those prayers live on.

    If your heart is broken today, go ahead and release your tears, for they are precious to God. In Psalm 56:8, King David says, “You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?”
    Your tears are so precious to the Lord.

    “Something About Her” from the album Greener Grass. Marianne wrote this song about her grandmother, who introduced her to art as a child.

    Why did I start painting?

    After I retired from nursing, I had to do something as a creative outlet. It is hard leaving a highly regimented job and to then move forward in life “allowing my whimsy to run free”. I felt like I was being frivolous and naughty!

    And yet, I was acutely aware that I was venturing into a new season.

    I started doodling and painting and found that my granddaughter loved what I was doing. She and I had so much fun painting together!

    “Miss Lily’s Dream Dance”

    However, I struggled with the idea that to be godly meant l shouldn’t be having fun, which isn’t true. If you are struggling with such thoughts as an artist, please knock it off! God loves you and has called you with a holy calling (James 1:17)! You can enjoy your life while you exercise the gifts He has given you!

    So, that is what l did. As a result, I have built a cottage industry of designing patterns for my simple paintings that allow others to recreate them. My desire is for grandmothers, mothers, dads – in fact, anyone who wants to create – to find joy in painting, especially with the children in their lives.

    Living in God’s perfect timing

    The full circle of life is not lost on me. God knew the desires of my heart, which was the arts. He knew the perfect time and the perfect seasons to grant me these desires. It took many years, but He allowed me the privilege of experiencing both music and painting and to help others enjoy them too. Such an act of God’s grace causes me to weep with joy and gratitude. What a mighty God we serve!

    If you feel you are wandering in the desert and are crying out, “What am I doing here?”, God hears you! He’s protecting you as He waits for the perfect time and the perfect season to bless you.


    Trust in Him!

    “Showers of Blessings”


    My most endearing art project – The Puddin’ Pie Girls

    As a child, I played with paper dolls. I loved them. I particularly loved the sets which were the Lennon Sisters. I know most of you are asking, “What??? Who????”

    Inspired by my childhood toys, I had in my mind a design for wooden dolls that could be painted and played with. Hence, in 2017, I designed the “Puddin’ Pie Girls” series. This started as a fun project with my granddaughter.

    Three of the “Puddin’ Pie Girls”

    For some reason, I submitted my first Puddin’ Pie Girl to Painting Ezine, an online digital download painting magazine. And lo and behold, it was on the cover of their October issue in 2018!

    Meanwhile, I have 5 Puddin’ Pie Girl designs and am just completing my 6th.

    “Lily Plum Pluett Puddin’ Pie” that was chosen for the cover of the October 2018 issue of Painting Ezine

    The painting patterns and step-by-step instructions for painting the Puddin’ Pie Girls, as well as my other pictures, are available for purchase on my website Little House Treasures. I also offer completed works for purchase and wooden painting surfaces.

    All my products can be viewed in the gallery on my website.

    Biblical inspiration and advice

    Matthew 18:3-4 is very compelling to me. Jesus tells us to become as little children and to humble ourselves.

    This is my goal as an artist. I try to look at things through a child’s eyes. Whatever is wholesome and pure, innocent and playful, whimsical and fun – this is my outlook on the things around me.

    I believe the Holy Spirit whispers an idea and the child in me takes it and runs with it! Just when I think my work is complete, He whispers, “Go a little further.”

    I never go with my initial finished work, because I know more will come. A word of advice is to sleep on it!

    If you are inspired to start writing or painting, I would advise you to always write down any and all ideas, no matter how big or small: snippets of songs, sketches, things you have seen, ideas that you may want to refer back to – whatever comes to you. Keep them always! You will return to them again and again.

    Why do that, you ask?

    At times, my creative cup bubbles over; other times, it waits to be filled. That’s when I am thankful for the things I have jotted down along the way!

    “Family Blessings”

    Challenges as a Christian Artist

    Having done both music and painting, the pressure is great to go the way of the mainstream industry.

    You will have well-meaning friends, publishers, and others giving you advice to change a lyric, shorten a song, create a new hook, or make your art more appealing to a wider audience by compromising on your original concept. I gave in to some of these things in the past, and it left me feeling sad and regretful.

    I encourage you to stay the course. Some advice is instructional, but some is going to take you off your path. Pray for discernment always.

    “Stand Firm” from the album Greener Grass

    Stir up the gifts of God

    2 Timothy 1:6 says to “stir up the Gift of God which is in you.”


    God knew you before time began and laid out a plan for your life, bestowing special gifts upon you.

    Keep your focus on the gifts God has given you. They are special, precious, and unique, and the world needs them.

    Summary

    I hope that in some small way, my words have encouraged you to keep your eyes on the course that was set before you by the One who created you.

    When you find yourself asking, “Lord, what am I doing here?”, be assured that there will come a day when it will all come full circle and be made known.

    God wants the best for you, His child. He is eternally patient with you and has good things in store for you. His timing is perfect and just because you are doing plumbing today, in the next season you may be doing electrical wiring! Not to worry, because you are still building a house for Him!

    Life is not static but remains fluid until the end. Go with God’s flow!

    God bless,
    Marianne Paluso

    P.S. Dear Mom, I am not starving in a ditch!

    Special words of thanks

    I thank God for the gifts He has laid upon me, special gifts for different seasons of my life.

    I thank God for my husband, who has always supported me and stood by me during rough sailing on choppy waters.

    I thank God for my children and grandchildren, who are bright stars in the sky and influence me daily.

    Connecting Further

    If you are interested in obtaining my painting instructions, you can download them from the following websites:
    www.etsy.com/shop/MariannesStudioArt
    www.littlehousetreasures.com

    You can also purchase my CD Miss Lucy’s House from my website, Little House Treasures:
    www.littlehousetreasures.com

    Feel free to write me an email!
    Email address: mapkap@hotmail.com

    About Marianne Paluso:

    Marianne Paluso is a retired nurse who now lives her childhood dream of being an artist. She is also a Christian folk musician who has produced two albums, Greener Grass and Miss Lucy’s House, with her husband.

    Marianne was first introduced to art by her grandmother; she, in turn, passed her love of artistic creativity down to her first granddaughter. These shared hours of joy inspired Marianne to create the Puddin’ Pie Girls, a serious of painting patterns aimed to provide adults and their children with the same enjoyment for painting.

    The Puddin’ Pie Girls are available for purchase on Marianne’s website Little House Treasures, as well as her music, original paintings, and other products.

  • Articles

    How a vision board can help you realize your goals for 2020

    Written by Madeline Kalu

    I first discovered vision boards through a series of YouTube videos from Terri Savelle Foy on the subject. For those of you who may not know her, Terri Savelle Foy is a Christian motivational speaker and life coach.

    Listening to Terri’s testimonies on how she used vision boards to realize her goals, motivated me to find out how vision boards could help me achieve mine.

    Therefore, l went up to my attic early last year and found an old corkboard that was standing forgotten in the corner. I cut out the letters “Vision” and pasted photos of the dreams and goals l wanted to achieve for that year; accompanied by each photo l wrote a declaration of achievement such as “I will have an article published by Crosswalk.com this year”.

    Did it work?

    It did.

    Not only did Crosswalk.com publish an article l wrote, but l was also approached by Christianity.com to write an article for them. Consequently, I have been writing for both online magazines for about nine months now. Additionally, l was asked this month to become part of the writing team for YMI Magazine.

    Vision boards work, and l am not the only one who thinks so: Christian Celebrities such as  Steve Harvey and Adrienne Houghton claim that using vision boards helped them achieve their dreams and goals.

    What is a vision board?

    So, what is a vision board?

    A vision board, otherwise known as a dream board, is a visualization tool that uses selected collages and verbal incentives on a board that act to clarify your dreams and goals, as well as keep you motivated and focused to achieve them.  

    Photo credit:  Emily Morter on Unsplash

    Why do vision boards work?

    Vision boards work as they:

    • help you identify and specify the dreams and goals you want to achieve
    • keep you motivated to make these dreams and goals a reality
    • are a constant visual reminder of your intentions to improve your life

    Photo credit:  S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

    Do l need to use a board to visualize my dreams and goals?

    Having a vision board hung in a prominent position in your home or your office is an effective way to self-motivate and keep your attention on your intentions.

    However, a vision board doesn’t have to be made out of corkboard for it to be effective.

    You can also create your own unique digital vision boards. Online tools such as PicMonkey and Canva enable you to create beautiful vision boards that you can store on your desktop or device, or download onto your phone.

    You can also use Pinterest to create a board and “pin” photos, images, scriptures, and inspirational quotes on it.

    The advantage of a digital vision board is that you can motivate yourself whenever and wherever you want to: at work, at the gym, or in the doctor’s waiting room. You can even re-focus on your life goals by referring to your vision board while you wait in the supermarket queue!

    Whatever way you choose to design your board, the main thing to consider is that it should be kept in a place where you have constant visual access to it.

    Photo credit: Laurenz Kleinheider on Unsplash

    Are vision boards biblical?

    It is a common assumption that vision boards work on the principle of the law of attraction, that is, that your mind works like a magnet to attract positive or negative things into your life, according to your mindset.

    However, the Bible states that we attract what we think:

    “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”

    Proverbs 23:7 (AMP)

    God advocates the necessity of having a vision – a revelation over our lives. Look at Proverbs 29:18:

    “Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained.”

    Proverbs 29:18

    The key point to note here is that vision and revelation should come from God and His Word.

    Furthermore, in Habakkuk 2:2, it states that we should write down our visions and revelations:

    ‘“Then the LORD answered me and said, “Write the vision and engrave it plainly on (clay) tablets so that the ones who reads it will run.”’

    Habakkuk 2:2

    Though some argue that vision boards center around the self through the pursuit of one’s own interests, a vision board can actually be an effective tool to visualize the dreams and goals that God has put in your heart, if the fulfilment of His will is our incentive, and not our self-interest.

    In order to achieve this, we need to seek God’s presence through supplication and prayer and keep Him as our first priority.

    Photo credit:  Rod Long on Unsplash

    Is it superficial or materialistic of me, if l want to improve the quality of my life?

    A desire to increase one’s personal wealth and acquire material possessions is a common association that is made when we approach the topic of making goals and achieving our dreams. And that is understandable, as we live in a broken world, whose value system is based on self-interest, materialism, and superficiality.

    God is not at the center of such pursuits.

    However, what if you had an ardent wish to be healed of a terminal illness? Or to heal a deep rift in your family? What if your biggest dream was to have a baby?

    You may also be very unhappy with your current job situation, or you would love to start your own Christian ministry.

    Would you seek God in prayer and ask Him to help make such matters of the heart a reality?

    Yes, you would.

    Dreams and goals do not have to be necessarily financially or materialistically orientated.

    That being said, that doesn’t mean that we can’t ask God to help make our financial ambitions a reality.

    Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross of Calvary was not only to pay the bond price for our sins and thereby secure us an eternal position at His side in Heaven. Jesus also came that we may have a fruitful life during our time on earth:

    “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”

    John 10:10

    What remains important is that our dreams and goals are in keeping with God’s will for our lives. Therefore, staying in constant communication with God through seeking His presence in prayer and in our quiet time with Him should be our first priority, not only as goal makers, but as Christians too.

    Photo credit:  Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

    What is the difference between a dream and a goal?

    Good question!

    A dream is an aspiration that has set itself in your heart. It is a vision you have of your future self – a healthier, happier, fulfilled self. You yearn for it and think about it on a regular basis; you hope and even believe it will happen, but you’re not sure when.

    And that’s good, because we can turn our dreams into goals.

    How?

    By attaching a deadline to them.

    A goal is a dream with a projected timeline. Goals are something you act upon. It requires a plan to make them a reality.

    Photo by Peter Fogden on Unsplash

    What are the most common dreams and goals that people aspire to?

    The following is a chart that depicts the most common dreams and goals that people want to achieve:

    What you will need to create your own vision board for 2020

    So, now that you know what a vision board is and how it can help you manifest your dreams and goals, you’ve decided that you would like to take the plunge and create your own vision board.

    First of all, spend some time in prayer and ask God for revelation of the dreams and goals He has put in your heart. Have a notebook with you in order that you can write down your thoughts and dreams as God reveals them to you.

    After you have determined your dreams and goals, it’s time to put them onto your board!

    Here’s what you need to get started:

    A board: A corkboard is ideal to use as a vision board, because you can pin your dreams and goals on them and then take them off easily and replace them with new ones. However, you can also use a whiteboard, a poster board, or a flip chart if you prefer.

    Pictures: Use pictures that graphically describe the dream or goal you want to achieve. Pin or glue your pictures next to the dreams and goals you write on your board. For example, if you are believing God for a baby, find pictures of baby clothing, a nursery, and a crib and paste it next to your goal.

    You can find pictures online, in magazines, or in brochures. You can even use postcards and pamphlets. Alternatively, you can create your own pictures digitally or draw them freehand.

    Adhesive: Use map pins, drawing pins, sellotape, double-sided tape, or glue to adhere everything onto your vision board.

    Writing implements: Write your goals on your board with permanent markers, whiteboard pens, or other pens of your choice. You can even cut out letters from magazines or use letter stencils.

    What else you will need:

    • scissors
    • paper or card to write your goals on

    If you would like a step-by-step tutorial on how to create your own vision board, click here to watch Terri Savelle Foy’s YouTube video on how she sets up her own vision board.

    Customize your vision board:

    The beauty of a vision board is that you can customize it to suit your tastes and preferences.

    The following are some ideas on how you can customize your vision board:

    Additionally, you can decorate your vision board according to your tastes with the following:

    • Washi tape
    • Glitter
    • Stickers
    • Ribbons and colorful bands

    I know that this feels like a kickback to your childhood, when you made your own poster presentations, but you’ll be amazed at how your visionary mindset is ignited once you get your creative juices flowing.

    You can also purchase vision board kits that provide you with printables such as scriptures, quotations, and affirmations with which you can customize your vision board.

    However you decide to design you board is up to you. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect; you’re creating a visualization tool, you’re not trying to be the next Picasso. Just have fun being creative!

    Photo by Carissa Weiser on Unsplash

    Make the most out of your 2020 vision board

    The following are some tips to help you make the most of your 2020 vision board:

    Make specific goals

    If you make unspecific goals, you are going to achieve unspecific results. Therefore, instead of writing on your vision board “I want to lose weight this year”, write down, “I will lose 10 pounds by July 1st”. Instead of writing, “I want to spend more time with God”, you can write, “I will get up 20 minutes earlier every morning and pray and have fellowship with God”.

    Additionally, another way you can set specific goals is to do some research and find out exactly what you need to do to achieve your goals.

    For example, if your goal is to come of out debt in 2020, ring your bank and find out how much you actually owe. Then write that number on your vision board. If your dream is to save up for a holiday, research how much the plane fares, hire car etc. are going to cost you so that you can have that number in front of you every time you look at your vision board.

    Don’t set more than 10 goals

    Setting too many goals can cause us to lose focus and it can also overwhelm us. Therefore, choose 10 goals to place on your vision board and concentrate on achieving them. Every time you reach one of those ten goals, you can always replace it with a new one.

    Set deadlines

    As we established earlier, the difference between a dream and turning it into a goal that you intend to achieve, is by setting a deadline.

    A good tip is not to set all your deadlines for December 31st, as the time span between now and then is so long, that you won’t be motivated to start achieving your goals until the end of this year, thereby putting yourself under unnecessary pressure. Making different deadlines will help you manage your goal setting and give you a sense of accomplishment as you tick each goal off as you progress through the year.

    If you don’t achieve your goal by the set deadline, don’t worry – just make a new deadline and keep striving towards making your goals a reality. The main thing is to complete the race and claim the prize; it doesn’t matter how long it takes to cross over the finish line.

    Make your deadlines realistic

    An acquaintance of mine has a goal to read 52 motivational books by the end of this year. That is certainly an admirable intention, but that means he has to read an average of 1 book a week, which puts a lot of pressure on him.

    However, what if he was to make a goal of reading 12 books a year? It’s a lot less than 52, but it means that he can read one book a month. And to have read 12 books in one year is still an achievement, isn’t it?

    Additionally, break down your goals into smaller, doable increments. Having a goal to read 12 books in one year still sounds like a lot of discipline is required. However, when you see that it means that you only need to read one book a month, then that reading goal suddenly seems more feasible to achieve.

    Another good tip, if you are making a vision board for the first time, is to make goals that you can see yourself achieving within 12-18 months; that way you can achieve a sense of accomplishment within a shorter period of time that will motivate you to pin further dreams and goals onto your vision board.

    Keep your vision board visible

    Now that you have made your vision board, you want to keep the goals and dreams that you intend to achieve at the forefront of your mind. Looking at your vision board daily will constantly remind you of how you want to change your life for the better; if your vision board is out of your direct sight, the desire for change will lose importance for you.

    Hence, hang your board in a place that you have daily access to, such as your kitchen, or next to your bathroom sink.

    If you have a digital vision board, save it onto your computer desktop or use it as your phone’s screensaver.

    Pray over your vision board

    On a daily basis, stand in front of your board and pray for God’s will, favor, and guidance for each of your dreams and goals.

    We may have great plans for our life, but God always knows what is best for us; therefore, we should lean on Him and trust Him to guide our steps for the outcomes He believes will best serve us.

    “A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life],
    But the Lord directs his steps and establishes them.”

    Proverbs 16:9

    Speak positive declarations over your dreams and visions

    In Joshua 6:20, the Israelites shouted in victory before they saw the walls of the city of Jericho fall down. In Acts 16:22-26,  Paul and Silas praised God whilst fettered in prison chains before He freed them. In 2 Chronicles 20:20-24, King Jehoshaphat and the Israelites danced and praised the Lord in victory, as they saw a triune of enemy forces approach them.

    There is tremendous spiritual power that is released when you declare your dreams and goals to be achieved before you have even seen them manifest. You are also showing God that you trust Him to fulfil the plans and promises He has spoken over you.

     ‘ Say to them, “As I live,” says the Lord, “just what you have spoken in My hearing I will most certainly do to you.”

    Numbers 14:28

    Therefore, declare your dreams and visions aloud in the present tense e.g. “My dream start-up is up and running”, “I am a mother”, “I am healed of anxiety and depression”, “My ministry reaches millions and gives them hope in Christ”. By speaking in the present tense, you are declaring that you see your intentions becoming a reality now, and not sometime in the vague distance future.

    To assist you in speaking positive declarations over your God-inspired dreams and goals, you can pin positive Christian affirmations on your vision board and read them aloud.

    Update your vision board yearly

    Even if you have not reached your goals by the year’s end, make a new vision board at the start of every year.

    You can always carry over your unfinished goals onto your new board; however, add some fresh dreams and goals as well, in order to motivate and encourage you to live the best life that God wants you to live.

    Photo credit:  Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

    Spread the vision

    Encourage your family and loved ones to make their own vision boards and thereby bring the dreams and goals that God has put on their hearts to fulfilment.

    You and a friend could also sit down with a cup of coffee and some baked treats and make an afternoon of it creating your own vision boards.

    Better still, invite your family, neighbors, and even your colleagues over for a vision board party! If you would like ideas on how to host your own vision board party, click here.

    Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

    Teach your children how to set their own goals through vision boards

    A vision board is also a great tool to teach kids and adolescents goal setting; additionally, reaching their goals will give kids such a sense of accomplishment and improve their self-confidence.

    If you would like to learn more about how you can teach your children about vision boards this article from Kiddie Matters provides great tips, worksheets, and templates you can download.

    There are also great vision board kits for children that provide colorful and fun materials that will engage your child and motivate them to create their own vision board.

    Vision boards are a great tool to help you achieve the dreams and goals that God has placed on your heart.

    We hope you enjoy creating your own vision board with the information you learned from this article. Feel free to share your designs and achievements with us in the comment section below!

    With many blessings,

    Madeline Kalu is a Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog. She was born in England, was raised in Australia, and currently lives in Germany with her husband Solomon. Madeline is in recovery from burnout, chronic depression, and anxiety. She believes that God can take life’s adversities and work them out for His good; hence, she uses her writing voice to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as to spread the light of God’s love to those who are mentally trapped in the dark, and provide them with hope and encouragement.