A Positive Mindset – Chapter 5

Battlefield of the Mind – Chapter 5
by Joyce Meyer

Being positive is not always easy.  It sure is easy to be positive when everything is going right.  When your well-laid plans smoothly play out the way you wanted.  When things just seem to fall into place…. being positive almost comes naturally in these circumstances.  But, what about when life is difficult?  When our plans go astray?  When life takes turns we could not even imagine?  Being positive in these situations is even more important and it is also all the more challenging.

Our thoughts, either positive or negative, effect our words, choices, and ultimately our life.  Keeping positive thoughts in all circumstances will produce faith and hope and will draw us and keep us closer to God.  Keeping negative thoughts when life is tough will produce doubt and fear and draw us away from God.  God wants us to lay our doubts and fears on Him and live in peace.  The devil wants us to harbor our doubts and fears because he knows it will put a wedge between us and God.

Sometimes we have be burned before and we don’t want to be burned again.  So, we avoid getting our hopes up.  Can you think of a situation when this has happened?  For example, a teen really enjoys playing basketball and wants to try out for the team.  However, she knows the competition is fierce and she doubts she will make the team.  She convinces herself to not even try out.  This way, when she doesn’t make the team, it won’t hurt so bad.  She can’t be disappointed if she doesn’t try out… In this situation, she has lost hope.  She hasn’t even given herself a chance.  She is avoiding the entire situation.  The avoidance of hope sets her up for a negative life. (See Proverbs 23:7) She is afraid to hope for fear of being hurt and disappointed.

Matthew 8:13 tells us that as we believe, it will be done.  If you believe negative thoughts, that is what you will see.  If you believe positive thoughts, with God’s help and in his perfect timing, you will see your life bearing positive fruit.  We need to align ourselves with God’s perfect plan for us.  If we don’t know God’s plan, we need to ask him through prayer to reveal it to us.  We also need to trust that God loves us, and whatever His plan is, we will be blessed.  Romans 8:28 reminds us that God causes everything to work together for the good.  Even when there seems to be just turmoil, even when we have hit rock bottom, we need to trust that God will pull good out of the situation and we will see it play out in days, months, years even…

Practice positive thinking in your life.  Even if you situation at the moment is not so good, expect God to bring good out of it, as He has promised in His Word.

The hardest part of being a negative person is admitting it and being willing to change.  You need to ask the Holy Spirit to convict you each time you start a negative thought.  Ask God to help you change that thought to a positive one.

As we focus on being more positive in all circumstances, it is also important to remain realistic.  If you know the odds are stacked against you, recognize that.  That doesn’t mean give up, it means try hard and keep going, but understand this time it may or may not work out, and that’s ok.  You must believe that God works out good in all things.

We must also have ready minds – minds open to God’s will for our lives.  We need to be realistic and face the facts, have a ready and open mind, and stay positive!

I conclude today with hope.  Don’t ever stop hoping.  Hope is the anchor to the soul.  It is the force that keeps us steady in times of difficulty.  Hope keeps our faith going and keeps us close to God.

Isaiah 30:18
So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you His love and compassion.  For the Lord is a faithful God.  Blessed are those who wait for His help.

 

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Inch by Inch – Chapter 4

Battlefield of the Mind – Chapter 4
by Joyce Meyer

When you are running a marathon, moving an inch can seem unimportant, like you are getting nowhere.  And when you look ahead to the finish line, with all of those inches ahead of you, you may feel defeated, like you will never reach the end.  But it is taking one step at a time, continuing inch by inch, that you will reach the finish line.

Let’s relate this to renewing our minds; casting out negative thoughts and making room for positive thinking, God thinking.  If we allow, God will renew our minds little by little.  He will not do this all at once.  If we reach our victory too quickly, we will be consumed with pride. ( See Deuteronomy 7:22)  If we are released slowly, one area at a time, we can appreciate our victories even more.  We can realize that God is working in us.  We will recognize the gift He is giving to us and that what we are experiencing is not possible on our own.  It is only possible with God.

Renewing your mind is hard work and it takes perseverance.  Throughout this process, we will stumble.  We will have bad days and rough patches along our journey.  We must remember to refrain from condemning ourselves.  Condemnation sets us up for negative thinking.  This is exactly what the devil wants.  He wants us to stumble, condemn ourselves, and get stuck in negativity.  He wants to halt the process of renewing our minds.  He does not want us to get back up and start again.  He does this through discouragement and condemnation.   It is so important to get up, dust off, and take another step.

Discouragement destroys hope.  Without hope, we give up, which is exactly what the devil wants.  The Bible repeatedly tells us not to be discouraged.  If we are discouraged, we will not find our victory.

So, what do we do when discouragement and condemnation enter our minds?  We need to examine our thoughts.  Are our thoughts negative?  Here are some examples of negative, discouraging thoughts…

I can’t do this.
This is too hard.
Nothing ever changes for me.
I’m tired of trying.
I don’t think I can make it.
I pray but I don’t think God listens to me.

Remember, you become what you think.  (See Proverbs 23:7)  If you are thinking these thoughts, you need to change your thinking in order to be set free.  Here are a few examples of ways to rephrase the above…

Things are a bit slow, but I am grateful that I am making progress.
This is a new day. You love me Lord and your mercy is new everyday.
I’m glad I am on the right path that will lead me to freedom.
Father forgive me for my negative thoughts and help to to keep on going.

Sometimes God takes His time in bringing us deliverance.  He uses the difficult period of waiting to stretch our faith and let patience work in us.  God’s timing is perfect.  We need to trust and have faith in His timing.

Challenge –
Use God’s Word to help overcome self-condemnation and discouragement.  Write it, pray it, and speak it aloud.  Let God begin to help you take baby steps, inch by inch, toward renewing your mind.

1 Peter 5:10
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, Who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you.

Mother’s Day

The second Sunday in May.  A holiday created by man to honor mothers.  It sounds great, doesn’t it?  The stores are stocked with cards, balloons, cakes, and flowers.  Signs in pink letters are everywhere you look.  You really can’t escape it or forget.  This one Sunday of the year should be perfect, right?  Wake to breakfast in bed, flowers on the table, a lovely church service, maybe a trip to the lake or a hike or picnic…. Family togetherness, honoring mom…

But what if it doesn’t work like that for you?  What if you desperately want to be a mom and you have not conceived yet, or have been told you can’t conceive?  That was me 16 years ago.  It tore my heart out.  I wanted so badly to be mom, but I was not.  Mother’s Day hurt. The world continued with its socially accepted commercialism.

A few years later, with the help of medical science, I became a mom, and a couple of years after that, again with the help of modern medicine, I became a mom again.  I felt so blessed.  I finally “fit in” to the Mother’s Day crowd.  But alas, that too was short lived.

My son, my 2nd born, was diagnosed with brain cancer on April 21, 2006.  He died on May 18, 2006.  Mother’s Day that year is one that is etched into my mind forever.  Well, at least the evening part.  I honestly cannot remember the day time part.  I wish I could.  Perhaps it was happy.  Perhaps it was fun.  Perhaps I smiled early in the day that year.  But that night, my son started fading fast.  He was lethargic, not eating, not keeping any fluids down and had signs of dehydration.  On May 14, 2006, Mother’s Day, we drove my baby boy to the hospital for the last time.  I walked in while my husband parked the car.  His tiny hands were wrapped around my neck and his head was rested on my shoulder.  I can still feel those tiny hands sometimes.  The nurses and triage receptionists looked at us as I walked through the door and immediately escorted us to a bed in the ER.  That sounds great, doesn’t it?  No check in, no waiting room…. but it’s not.  When they do that, you know your child is very ill.  The next few days brought a flurry of procedures, surgeries, chemo treatments, etc.  He faded a bit more each day.  On May 18, he left this earth and went home to be with Jesus while my husband and I held him in our arms.

So, Mother’s Day is difficult for me.  Not only am I missing my son terribly, but I have the aching reminder of bringing him to the hospital for the last time on Mother’s Day.  Every year I think I will be able to smile, celebrate, become part of the socially accepted “mom’s club”, and every year I fall short, in a puddle of tears.

It’s been 10 years now since we lost our son.  We have been blessed with another daughter who is 8 years old now and miraculously, I am expecting my 4th baby this coming September.  This baby is a blessed surprise.  No doctor appointments, procedures, shots, etc.  I woke one day and was pregnant!  I thought, once again, this year will be different.  I am so blessed with my girls and the new life inside my womb that I will smile.  I will celebrate and I will be able to let my family celebrate with me.  But I was mistaken again.

Feelings of the past, present, and future collided yesterday and I was a wreck.  I cried for my baby that I lost.  I cried for my baby who is not born yet.  I cried for my girls who are with me and I cannot even be happy with them on this day.  I cried for my friend Jenny who died in December.  I cried for her children and husband who are missing her terribly every time they look at a “Mother’s Day” sign or card.  I cried for the ache they are feeling that no one can soothe for them.

I skipped church.  I kept busy all day doing chores and projects in the house.  I couldn’t sit still or I would cry.  At the end of the night, while talking to my husband, I realized that I will never fit into this man-made, commercialized holiday.  But a part of me still wants to be able to spend a day with my family and get a little spoiled.  (What girl doesn’t?)  So, after tears, conversation, prayer, and thought, we decided that I do not have to celebrate Mother’s Day in May.  Who said I have to anyway?  We will celebrate Mother’s Day in our family in August.  A month when such feelings of grief are not raw and attached.  Will it work?  I have no idea, but we are going to plan a day in August and try it out.  My girls can spoil me, we will do something fun as a family, I am sure I will think of my boy, but hopefully, it will be a smile on my heart instead of the gut-wrenching reply of that Mother’s Day night 10 years ago.  If Mother’s Day is a man-made made holiday, then this lady is going to change it!  And perhaps, without the commercialized hype around me, and the socially accepted posts streaming our computers, we will enjoy a peaceful, lovely day with just us.

For all of those who struggle on Mother’s Day, my prayers are with you.  There are so many out there that are silent.  That feel paralyzed.  That cry behind closed doors.  Remember that you are not alone.  God is always with you.  And you don’t have to have a May Mother’s Day or a Mother’s Day at all.  You are allowed to change the rules.  To those living without their moms, to those living without their wives, and to those living without a child or children, may God’s peace find you and wrap you up.  May He catch each tear and hold it in the palm of His hand.  May He enable you to celebrate in your own way and time, not according this this world, but according to what your heart needs.

And for all of you who still have your moms, children, and spouses – you are blessed.  Don’t ever forget how blessed you are.  Thank God for them every single day, not just on Mother’s Day.

 

Obedience

For the past few years, instead of making a list of New Year’s Resolutions, I have chosen a word to try and live by.  A word that I struggle with, a word that I know will make me a better person in how I glorify God, a word that will make me a better person in how I serve my family, a word that I can apply to almost any situation that life brings me.

As I reflect back, I feel like I have made some major changes in my life through this process and they have stuck!  (Unlike so many resolutions that last a few weeks and are forgotten about…) The first word I chose is 2013 was INTENTION.  I tried hard to be intentional about the choices I made and the situations I took part in.  I learned how to be intentional about the words I spoke to people and the actions I took as well.  While this was a challenging word for me, it was a good one and I still keep this in my mind and I continue to work on it.

2014 brought UNDERSTANDING.  This was also challenging for me.  I needed to learn to listen better and listen first!  I had to spend lots of time putting myself in another’s situation and changing my perspective.  I’m not going to lie, my husband helped me a lot with this one!  We had many conversations about ways to be more understanding.

For 2015, I chose the word RELATIONSHIPS.  Boy was I nervous about this one.  Since my son died, I have severed most relationships and have been quite comfortable with just my family as my support system.  I really did not want to choose this word, but sometimes God chooses for you and you need to step out in faith.  So that is what I did.  I spent much time praying about how to better myself in the area of relationships.  In the last year, I have made a couple of close friends and met some new neighbors.  I am definitely out of my comfort zone!  However, more miraculously is what has occurred right at the end of the year.  Shortly before Christmas, two things happened to me that I have been in prayer about for years.  The first was that I forgave a family member who hurt me more than 10 years ago.  The second is that I apologized to a long lost friend who I hurt about 6 years ago.  I have not seen this person in years because we moved away, but I happen to run into her a few weeks ago and it felt so good to tell her I was sorry.  I may never see her again, but she knows now that I am sorrowful for what happened and I know that I am forgiven by God.

Overall, I’d say that choosing a word to live by for the year has done me well so far!  I definitely see a change in me from when I began this journey in 2013.  So, as I began praying for what my word should be this year, one word kept coming to mind.  I tried to say no, I tried to pray about another word, but God has a way of letting me know this is it!  Ironically, it was even the subject of my Bible study this week!  I guess He wanted to make sure I was hearing Him loud and clear!  The word is OBEDIENCE.

And, yes, as I heard that word, I said, “NO!”  I am not the most obedient person.  I struggle with what I want to do often or with what I think is best.  So, I guess this is my challenge this year.  I will focus first and foremost on being obedient to God.  Once I am in obedience with Him, I know He will help me with all the other areas of my life where I need to show obedience.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
-Romans 5:19

Join me on this journey!  Pray about a word you can use this year in all you do and see what God brings forth because of it!  I would love to hear about what word you choose.  Leave your comments below.  God bless and Happy New Year!

The Peace that Passes Our Understanding

Prayerlessness.  This obstacle finds so many of us.  Why do you think we do not pray? Do not pray often?  Do not pray sincerely?   I can only speak from my own experiences.  I didn’t know how.  I felt inadequate.  I didn’t think I was good enough to offer up a feeble prayer to the Lord, the creator of the universe!

I tried.  Believe me, I tried!  I didn’t try often enough, it was mostly when life was hard I would find myself crying out to God for help.  Occasionally I would offer up a prayer of gratitude.  But in those deep, dark places of my soul, when I felt so alone and I had no one else to talk to, no one that would understand, that is when I really prayed.  I prayed through tears, through anguish, through frustration, through helplessness and hopelessness.  This went on for years.

And then…. something clicked in my soul.  I realized that God just wants me to talk to Him.  He wants a relationship with me.  He isn’t looking for eloquent or scripted, educated or rehearsed prayer.  He is looking for my heart, open and honest and every day.  I began this prayer journey with a new frame of mind.  I began praying all the time!  In the car, as I made lunches, at the grocery store, cleaning, doing laundry, etc.  Whatever it was that I was doing, if I was by myself, I prayed.  I just talked to God.  I told him what I was thankful for that day. I shared my anxieties and fears and gave them over to Him.  I prayed for my family and shared their worries with Him as well.  It didn’t matter what the words were or how they came out, I was talking to God.

Well, a curious thing began to happen to me.  I became peaceful, from the inside.  I am more patient.  I have less fear and less anxiety.  My faith is stronger and still growing.  The moment I realized that these changes were taking place was on May 18, the anniversary of my son’s death.  For the first time in 9 years, I was ok.  I wasn’t crying.  I didn’t have an anxiety attack.  I felt a peace inside me that I cannot explain.  I was actually confused!  I had become so used to wallowing in misery on this day and even the days leading up to it, that I did not know what to do with myself!  Another huge realization occurred just a few days ago, on Thanksgiving night.  I began to pull out all the Christmas decorations and boxes and I started to decorate at 8 pm on Thanksgiving!   My 13 year old daughter said to me, “I don’t remember you ever wanting to decorate for Christmas, and especially not this early.  We usually have to pull teeth to get you to take the decorations out.”  She is exactly correct.  I was deep in grief and I was not deep in prayer, allowing the Holy Spirit to give me peace.

I can’t explain it, but I couldn’t wait to decorate for Christmas!  It is our Savior’s birth!  What a glorious and exciting time! Again, I am experiencing a peace that I cannot explain.  I am not dreading the birthday of my son, who is with Jesus.  I am relishing in the birthday of Jesus.

God tells us in the Bible that we will have trouble in this world.  He tells us that Satan is a real force of evil and He will do whatever He can to stop the flow of peace and love between God and us.  Prayer is the strongest weapon we have against Satan.  Use it and use it daily.  You will begin to feel a peace that can only come from the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.”

My prayer for all of you is that you find your peace through prayer.  May God be with you on this journey and may He bless you daily as you pray.

Where is God?

I gave up facebook almost a year ago and I am so glad that I did.  As I scroll with my husband on his account, I am reminded of what a broken, disgraceful, self-absorbed, messy world we live in.  I see headlines and posts about the attacks on Paris, Muslims, Syrian Refugees coming to the USA, liberalism, common core education, starbucks cups without snowflakes, political correctness, bashing our president, and so much more.  Not to mention all the personal posts about how life is grand, or life sucks, or look at what we have, etc, etc, etc.  I am sure you get the idea of what is out there, you may even be reading it in your own scroll.

I began to ponder the question so many ponder.  Where is God in all of this?  I am not a politician.  I am not versed in law, world affairs, government, political parties, etc.  But as I read about these events taking place in the world, as I see families being torn apart in my town by divorce, abuse, infidelity, and more, I can’t help but wonder what the heck is going on.

The only place I can and will go to find my answers is the Good Book, The Bible.  I happen to be studying Isaiah right now and oh my goodness!  It is almost as if God placed this book in my hands right when I would need answers to all that is happening in our world today.  The kings of Isaiah’s time all fell short.  Some to idolatry, some to prayerlessness, some to unbelief, legalism, pride (that’s a big one).  Each time these kings found themselves in troubled situations, God reached out to them.  Some accepted His hand and some refused it.  Those who accepted His hand were blessed.  Those who refused it were defeated.  This is a very simple, basic synopsis of what I’ve been reading about.  It goes deep and it is long.  But the principle remains the same.  God wants to help us.  Will we let Him?

Our fight in this world is not against terrorists.  It is not against  Muslims, Christians, Jews, Democrats, Republicans, Communists, etc.  It is not against our nasty neighbor, our abusive parent, our cheating spouse, or our dysfunctional school system.  Our fight is a spiritual war against the devil.  It is the devil who is causing all of these divisions in our world.  He is tempting everyone, using everything, and he is getting his way.  He has us fighting ourselves!

We sit here and wonder why is God not doing anything to help us, to save us from this suffering, to take this away from us.  But He is, He has, and He always will.  We are just not accepting the hand He is extending to us.  I am so thankful that God is so patient with us.  2Peter 3:9 tells us that “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand  slowness.  Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Don’t you see?  God is waiting patiently for all to repent!  He is giving us chance after chance after chance!  And when we repent, as individuals, as families, as neighborhoods, as cities, as states, as countries, WE WILL BE BLESSED!  The Lord wants to protect us and He wants to deliver us from this evil.  Our culture and our country is saying no, loud and clear.  Everywhere we go, God is being forced out and the devil is being invited in.  We are getting exactly what we have created.

Isaiah 61:1-4 promises the deliverance of those in bondage.
“The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”

Our freedom is in Christ alone.  He is the deliverer!  He is the one who can release us from this world.  No political party or military plan will work without Christ.  It doesn’t matter if we accept or reject refugees, bind or release prisoners, secure our borders or keep them open.  Without Christ, we have nothing.  Our country needs to repent and praise God.  Until this happens, we will be under spiritual warfare.

I cannot wait for the return of Christ on the earth!  What a glorious and awesome day that will be!  But I am also so thankful for His patience in trying to reach all of His lost lambs.  He is waiting for us, all of us.

Instead of living in fear, let’s stand united in Christ.  Put on His armor.  He is our strength and our shield.  Let this political situation be an opportunity for us to stand together as one, not divided.  Let us minister to these refugee families as they come into our country.  Let us share Jesus with them.  These kids will be in our schools, they will live in our neighborhoods.  Let us not be fearful.  Cry out to God for His strength, His words, His direction.  Let us show these people what a peaceful nation can look like.  Take down the signs of hatred, the political party labels, the denomination disagreements.  Let us be ONE in Christ!  Let us welcome all who come to us and let us be humbled with the opportunity that Christ has given us to share His love with them.

Are you up for the challenge?

Jenny Original

My friend Jenny used to make these absolutely beautiful baby slings.  She gave me one 7 years ago when my youngest daughter was born.  After that, every time I needed a baby gift, I ordered a Jenny Original baby sling and gave it to the expectant mother.  It was always a favorite gift!  I told Jenny years ago that one day people would see a sling and say, “Is that  a Jenny Original?”

My family lived in Richmond for 6 1/2 years.  During that time Jenny was an important part of my life.  Our time together in the Family Room at church will always be treasured.  It was here that we met, spoke of our babies with Jesus, and cried together.  We spent many more days in that family room.  I’m not sure if Jenny realized what that time meant to me, but her kind and loving words carried me through my darkest days.

I remember seeing the Stevens Family walk into church before I knew them.  Jenny was pregnant with James.  I watched them each week in anticipation of the baby being born.  I was still raw from losing my own baby.  When James was born, I could not take my eyes off of him.  I was drawn to him.  A little peach fuzz, blonde boy, very much like my own little boy.  It was shortly after that I met the Stevens Family.

We became close.  We shared a small group together.  Our daughters went to Scouts together, choir together, and even coop together for a time!  Jenny and her girls spent endless hours helping my family with fundraisers for brain cancer, painting little Christmas ornaments, collecting toys for the hospital, and so much more.  Some of my fondest memories are sitting at my dining room table and painting those ornaments that would be given to those who donated toys for the hospital.  We painted for hours and just chatted!

Four years ago, we moved again.  I have not seen Jenny in quite a long time.  I think of her often and the impact she has made in my life.  She is a friend who has changed my heart.

Jenny did not only make original baby slings.  Jenny is original in her heart.  She reaches out just a little bit farther.  She gives just a little bit more.  She hugs just a little bit tighter.  She cares just a little bit deeper.  She lives and breathes Jesus in everything she does.  I cannot think of a better example of someone who others can see Christ through.

I love you Jenny.  You have impacted my heart and that will leave an impression forever.  My heart aches that you are battling right now.  I just want you to know that you have taught so many people so much.  You have touched the world.

Thank you for being so original, Jenny.  There is no other like you!  May you find peace and strength through God on this journey.  I will continue my prayers for you and for your family.  I love you all.

Jason Crabb – He Knows What He’s Doing

Dear Jesus,
Jenny needs you.  Her family needs you.  Wrap your love around them and don’t let go.  Let your peace and strength invade their inner souls.  Shower them with your Spirit and surround them with the support they need now and in the future.  The journey is long and tiresome, but this is not our home.  We are but here temporarily, on our way to your arms, where we will all rejoice with you in eternity!
Amen

Daylight Savings – From the Eyes of a 7 Year Old

This morning, as we were getting ready for school, my youngest daughter asked me, “Well, did everyone change their clocks?”  I told her simply, yes.  She was not satisfied with this answer, but at this time, I did not realize this.  She pondered this habit, this tradition, this bizarre occurrence in her mind as we got into the car and began our travel of first driving my eldest daughter to school, then driving little Emma to school.  It was just as we were approaching Emma’s school that she brought up this subject again.  She asked me why we change the clocks.  I tried my best, in my feeble attempt, to explain that we don’t like driving to school in the dark, so when it begins to stay dark longer in the mornings, we change the clocks so that we will be able to drive to school in the daylight.  I also explained that the sun will set earlier now, so it will also rise earlier.  She thought about this and then asked why can’t we just go to school after the sun rises.  Why do we have to change our clocks.

Wow!

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18:3

My mind was blown.  I sat quietly as I drove to capture my thoughts and form words she might understand.  This is what I came up with.

I told Emma just how smart she was for thinking this way and I also told her she was not wrong.  God created our world with a big, beautiful sun.  And the sun gives us different amounts of light as the seasons change.  God intended for people to wake and rise with the sun, do their work for the day, and go to bed when it got dark.  But, people got too busy.  People started having too much to do and needed to make sure they could get it all done. So, they created clocks, which of course are based upon the sun.  The difference is that as the seasons change, clocks do not change, so people have to change them to keep up with God’s amazing creation, the sun.

See, people think that we need more, need to do more, need better technology, better ways to accomplish things, etc, etc, etc.  This list can truly go on forever!  If we stepped back and looked at what God has already put in place for us, we might just see that His creation is all we ever need!

Perhaps we are burnt out, stressed out, overworked, and exhausted because of those darn clocks!  Maybe we should rise with the sun, have a nice breakfast and make our way to work.  Then, head on home as the sun begins setting for a hearty meal.  Doesn’t that sound fantastic?

All of these years I have taken Daylight Savings for granted.  It took my 7 year old to jolt me back to reality.  Faith like a child, Jesus says.  I hope Emma never loses her insight and her faith.  She teaches me things everyday!

As you are all adjusting to the time change, take a moment to realize that this is not how it is supposed to be.  This is not the life God intended for us.  Thankfully, this is not our world!  We have a world of eternity waiting for us with Jesus, where there are not clocks to change and no deadlines to meet, and no more being late!  It will be a blessed place where time will not exist.  God’s glory will be the only thing we need to concern ourselves with in eternity!  That sounds good to me!

AMEN!

Psalm 63

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you.  My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.  I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.  Your unfailing love is better to me than life itself; how I praise you!  I will honor you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.  
-Psalms 63:1-4

This is how I feel often, like I cannot get enough of reading God’s Word and learning more about Him.  I look around me and see the broken world that I live in and it is difficult.  But then, I look within, I know that this is not my home!  I know that I am on a journey and this is just a small part of my journey to eternity!  I raise my eyes, lift my hands, and praise God for His grace and salvation!

I want others to feel this.  I want others to know Jesus.  I want others to feel this thirst that is described by David in Psalm 63.  I want others to know that the past is the past and Jesus holds no record of sins.  That His blood alone is atonement for the world’s sins forever!  That simply, through faith in the cross of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and redeemed!

I have had a lot of changes and transitions in my life over the past several months.  One of which was resigning my teaching job and being at home to support my family and be more available to them.  While this is a wonderful opportunity and I am grateful and blessed that we are financially able to support this family decision, I was nervous.  What am I going to do with myself while everyone is at work/school?  You see, I do not like to be alone.  My mind goes crazy sometimes and I think all sorts of things that are not good or healthy.  However, here I was waving goodbye to my family and finding myself in complete silence…

Some may say that sounds like blessed bliss!  I struggled for a while with finding my way in this new role.  I took to cooking every night, which I love (and so does my husband!)  I shuttle the girls here and there before and after school to various activities.  I now have a routine for laundry, cleaning, shopping, etc and all of this is done while everyone else is at school/work.  I even volunteer in schools a few days a week.  But I was still feeling empty.  I decided I needed direction, not from my husband or children, not from friends, but direction from God.  I needed to know where He wanted me and what He wanted to use me for.

I began to pray.

I participated in a Bible Study at my church.  It was a Beth Moore study called Stepping Up – a journey through the Psalms of Ascent.  This was a fantastic study and journey.  It helped me understand the journey of the Pilgrims as they traveled to Jerusalem each festival season.  It gave me a picture in my mind of life in those days and how these people felt many of the same feelings that we feel today; anguish, desperation, praise, disrespect, ridicule, protection, restoration, blessedness, persecution, promises, harmony, and blessings.  It also showed me how these people relied on God to help them through both the difficult times and the joyous times.

Through this study, I continued to pray.  I prayed for direction.  I prayed for a way to serve others.  I prayed God would lead me.  It was after the Extraordinary Women’s Conference a few weeks ago that I realized that I felt pulled to serve in my community somehow.  Now, for those of you who know me, I am not a people person!  I am not the person who will knock on doors or start conversations!  Going new places gives me a bit of anxiety!  So, this was an interesting pull that I was feeling!

I continued my prayers and asked God to show me what it was He would like me to do.  I do not know how to describe it, except to say that one day during my prayer time, it just came to me!  The WARM Shelter in my community just popped into my head.  WARM (Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministry) is a temporary shelter for women and children who desire the opportunity to gain self-sufficiency and long term stability.  The home can host up to 7 families and assists these families in getting back on there feet, permanently.  In my prayer, I heard God telling me to offer a Bible Study for these women.

I immediately contacted them and shared my prayer.  I filled out a volunteer application and attended an interview.  They shared with me that they were also in prayer for someone to lead a Bible Study for these women who so desperately need it!  WOW!  Isn’t God amazing how He brought us together for His purpose?

I am humbled by this opportunity that I will be starting in early November.  I have been researching studies and thinking about a game plan.  Since the families live in the home for only a short time, up to 6 months, I wanted to make sure I chose studies that they could really fill their Spiritual Toolbox with.  Scripture based studies that would stay with them forever.  I also wanted to choose something I could reuse as a new group of women came in.  I have chosen Beth Moore’s Breaking Free and Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God.  Both of these studies are deep.  They will help these ladies to realize that they don’t have to be in bondage of their past and that God will protect and guide them wherever they go in the future.  It is my prayer that these women will be blessed by this time together and that they begin to grow a relationship with Jesus that they will take with them wherever they go in life.

I have ordered the materials and books for Breaking Free already and I am so excited!  While there is not a budget in place for Bible Study at WARM, I know that God has called me to do this.  I have faith that others will see the importance of sharing Jesus’ Word to help these families in transition and want to help.  I know God will bless this study and future studies as well.  I can only praise God for answering my prayers and giving me this opportunity to minister to women in my community!

Thank you Jesus for guiding me to this task for you.  Let my words speak of your goodness and grace and be present with me Lord as I minister to these women and their children.  Give me the courage to speak your messages in bold confidence.  Let these women see you in me.  Thank you Jesus!

If you would like to make a donation to Bible Study books and materials to be used at WARM, please click the link below.  Thank you in advance!  God bless!

https://www.youcaring.com/waynesboro-area-refuge-ministry-warm-456750

Blow Your Ram’s Horn

I spent my weekend in Roanoke with my daughter at The Extraordinary Women’s Conference.  What an experience!  We laughed and cried, were excited and exhausted, and had such a great time together!  The line up of speakers and performers was unbelievable!  Tim Hawkins and Mercy Me took the stage Friday night and blew us away!  Oh how I love Mercy Me.  There music speaks to my heart.  Their new song Flawless is just beautiful and so true.  If you have not heard it, check it out.

Some of the best moments came when we were engaged and listening to the speakers.  Max Lucado discussed Joshua’s victory over Jericho and his deliverance into the Promised Land.  Joshua’s priests blew the ram’s horn, before a battle had even begun.  I never knew this, but in those days, the blowing of the ram’s horn signified victory AFTER a battle.  Yet, God told Joshua to blow the ram’s horn at the start.  Do you realize what this means?  God won the battle before it even began, he won it for Joshua and he won it for you and me!

What is your Jericho?  What has a stronghold on your heart?  For me, it is fear and anxiety.  I’ve been battling these since my son died in 2006.  Every time my husband leaves the house, for work, band practice, Bible study, a bike ride, I fear he will not return to me.  Every time I drop my girls off at school, or at a friend’s house, I fear they will not return to me.  I know this fear because of the loss of my baby boy.  Life was great.  We were happy, we had everything going for us, so we thought.  One day, out of the blue, my son had cancer.  30 days later he was gone.  It was this moment, this turning point, that drew me to God.  It was this event in my life that made me realize I knew God as a concept only, not a reality.

Do you view God as a concept or do you  have a deep relationship with God and know he is a reality?  Kasey Van Norman described this so well at the conference.  She said most of us live somewhere in the middle.  Before my son got sick, God was definitely a concept to me.  He was there, somewhere.  When I needed something, I pulled out my God card and said a quick prayer.  When life was good, I rarely thought about him.  Until my world crashed.  Until my security blanket got pulled out from under me.  Until I was left with nothing but raw emotion and fear and anger and sorrow.  Until I needed God in reality, not in concept.

I began my journey at the lowest point in my life.  I had only one place to look and it was up.  I started the slow and steady climb to learn more about the God who loves me, to dig deeper into his Word and digest the sacrifice that Jesus made for me.  I couldn’t get enough of learning about God.  I still can’t.  The more I learn, the more I know, the more I realize I have so much to learn and the more I realize I know nothing!  God is so immense.  He is so AWEsome.  He is so complex.  How can you learn all there is to know about him?  There is always more!

At one point during the conference, Angie Smith shared her story of losing her baby Audrey.  Her words resonated with me.  Her feelings were my feelings.  Her fears were my fears.  I felt her pain and my pain all over again.  Her loss took her on a journey into Women’s Ministry.  It took her on a journey into the spotlight to speak to and write for women all over the world.  She is blessed to be able to do this for women.  But she herself said, couldn’t God have found another way to move me in this direction?  Couldn’t he let me keep my baby?  I feel that everyday.

Wasn’t there another way?  Maybe and maybe not.  2Corinthians 12:9 says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  It is.  I can testify to that.  In my weakness of being a mother who no longer needed a diaper bag, of being a mother who had no baby to tuck into a crib at night, of being a mother whose arms were empty of the son she loves, God’s strength pulled me through and continues to do so every single day.  I know God today in a way I never would have known him otherwise.  I wish the events of my life would have unfolded differently, but they didn’t.  I don’t know why.  But I am blessed by God’s strength.  I am blessed to know he will not forsake me.

In my prayers daily, I pray for safety for my husband and my girls.  I pray they will come home to me each day whole and healthy.  These are good prayers and help me get up, get through my day, and be ok.  But…. I am a daughter of the King.  I am an heir to his throne.  I deserve more than a day of relief from my fear.  Why am I not praying for God to take away my fears and anxieties all together?  (Because I accepted it.  I never thought it was possible!)  Why do I settle for less than the power of God?

Today, I will blow my ram’s horn.  The battle is won before the fight!  God has the power to take your stronghold.  I am laying down my fears, my anxieties.  I am praying the prayer I should have prayed years ago.  Jesus, take my fears.  Take my anxieties.  Leave me with a peaceful heart and the comfort to know that whatever lies ahead of me and my family, you will be by my side to help us through it.  Amen.