Sweet Freedom

Praying this book will touch your life.  If you would like a free copy sent to your email, send me a request:

 

Free–Sweet Freedom With a Slice of Peach Cobbler.

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Checking In Part Three

Day Thee: Checking In

Have you taken out your journal? Have you jotted down anything? Today we will talk about never taking life for granted. If you would like to read part one and part two of Checking In please go to my blog https://firsthalfday1.wordpress.com.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy for people to slow down and appreciate their lives. But what causes them to be on the go so much? What causes them to avoid what is really going on inside of them? As a librarian, I am seeing more and more self-help books on the shelves written by people who have survived personal tragedies and how their experience has cause them to stop taking their lives for granted. I could fill quite a few pages with my own personal tragedies but here I am at the age of 51 and am finally learning to slow down, step back into my life and take nothing for granted.

There are many things that people avoid in themselves that causes them to be on the go and not see the realness of life. To me, the realness of life is God’s blessings all around me. I would like to dissect a few of these things. Believe me when I say, I struggle with these things myself. This is not a lesson for you and not myself; oh no, not at all.

  1. Being counterfeit: How many times do we go to church on Sunday and by Tuesday we realize we are not that smiling Sunday pew sitter? We are yelling at our family, complaining about our jobs, eating every cookie in the cookie jar or drinking another glass of wine. That’s the Devil. He’s trying to win us over by enticing us. Folks, resist the Devil and He shall flee. James 4:7. In those times, when you are falling apart, get out your journal and write down what is really bothering you. Pray in your writing. I often write: Lord, let me feel the feeling and then help me to release it to you. I am not in control of this but You are and I trust You. Try it.
  2. Prioritizing: How much time are you spending with God? Are you prioritizing your time? Are you praying for those who have asked you to please pray for them? Here is a good time to jot down in your journal what is taking away your time from slowing down and spending time with God? Make your list on the left and then on the right, jot down a resolution to your priorities. This is a prayer I’ve written and it sits by my bedside: in the Name of the True Living God, Jesus Christ, I renounce my worship to ______________________that is stealing precious time spent with You. My personal blank can be filled with different things on any given day. Give it a try.
  3. Bitterness: This is a biggie. When my x-husband left me, I was very bitter and for a long time. I did a lot of crying, praying and participated in psychotherapy. I would suggest that if you are bitter with someone or over some situation, stop now, jot it down and ask God how He would like for you to deal with the situation. Often we hold things against ourselves as well, punishing ourselves for wrong choices we’ve made in the past. Oh boy, do I struggle with this one. Don’t forget how much God loves you; He sent His one and only Son to save you. Ponder that for a minute. He loves you no matter what. No matter what wrong choices you’ve made; He will not leave you nor forsake you. Oh thank you Jesus. In your bitterness journal, I would like for you to do one more thing. This is a very private exercise; it is between you and God. Write down the “thoughts you have or have had against God.” Obviously God has never done anything wrong but there have been times where we’ve thought He has. Pour your heart out. He will reveal His love for you.

There are so many other reasons that steals our time and we take it for granted. We forget the wonderful things that He has done for us. We look to the world to bring us joy and happiness but it cannot do that. This is why people live in constant frustration seeking and missing the day. One more writing assignment, then I’ll go…This will hopefully bring empowerment and a creative expansion to your life. Make a list of a number of everyday routine activities that you perform. Include the mundane activities. They can be things like driving to work, grocery shopping, sweeping the kitchen floor, changing diapers, caring for your parents…then bring your awareness to each activity and thank God for them. I thank you God that I have a car and a job. I thank you God that I have money to buy groceries for my family. I thank you God for my baby. I thank you that I can change the diaper and that I have plenty on the shelf. I thank you God for my father/mother and for this time that I can give back to them for all they’ve done for me.  You get my drift. If you take the time to make yourself a vehicle of alertness, you will not take your life for granted. May I leave you with this last scripture:

But God, who is rich in mercy because of His great love, that He had for us, made us alive with the trespasses.

You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus, He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens,

So that in the coming ages, He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-8

living by graceI am honored to be part of Living by Grace as the co-host today. Come and join us as we discuss my journal exercises in my four part series: Checking In…

Checking In

Day Two on Checking In

Yesterday we chatted a little bit about affirmations. Did you make your list and are you reminding yourself of your goodness? I hope so.

Today I will be writing about achieving the impossible. Do you have days where you think there is something that is just not possible? Is it a decision at work or an argument with your spouse or a bill that is not getting paid? Know that the impossible is possible.

It was the last day of me living on the farm. I had been there for almost 14 years and it was my familiarity, my safe haven and my peace. I was standing in the kitchen where I had made bread with my daughter, cooked eggs with my son and shared many stories around the table and all that was left were the bare walls. I remembered the day that the town people walked off of my farm with my belongings in the auction; the auction that sold my memories. I remember there being nothing left of what was. The tears came and right there, I grabbed a piece of paper from my purse, a pen and sat there on the bare floors and began to write.Holding Glasses over Bible

Twenty three years of marriage was gone in a blink of an eye. My husband left me with so much “impossible.” Little did I know that God was going to provide the possible to this impossible. I know that while we are going through the rough times, it’s not always possible to see God working or see that sometimes the bad is good.  The hardship and upheavals, the losses and heartache that I’ve experienced has brought me to a more peaceful place in my soul. None of it was a meaningless accident; not even my 23 year marriage. I have a few beautiful memories and three wonderful adult kids. But I certainly went through the impossible thoughts. I became consumed with defining myself more by my questions rather than God’s answers. Another word, “Why God” was the question I asked every day. I was very depressed.

Did you know that 40 million people are plagued with some sort of depression and 18 million take antidepressants to cope? I was part of that number. I was trying to avoid my life rather than deal with it. I went to psychotherapy which I just learned means attention to the soul, and I did a lot of journaling and seeking God. I didn’t want to sleep through this journey. I didn’t like it and I continually felt it was impossible until God finally got through my thick skull that all things are possible through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13.

I look back on my life while writing this and see how many impossible situations I came through; I am pretty resilient and now as I recover and grow stronger with my kidney disease, I see again how God is bringing my impossible thoughts to possible actions. When I feel the impossible feelings come on, I remind myself that my life is really good.

Here is an exercise for you. Take your sheet of paper and fold it in two. On the left side, write Sorrows and on the right side write Joys. Then begin to allow your pen to swoon over the left side and feel the pain of your sorrows. Focus on those sorrows one at a time. It doesn’t matter how long you make that list and how long you spend on each item. My left side could be 10 pages long; however, my right side can be 20 pages long. Allow yourself to dig deep. When I really started to do this exercise, and by the way, this is something my dad taught me when I was making a very big decision in life, make a left and right-sided list of pro’s and con’s; but when I started doing this, I began to make some definite changes in my life. Some of them will take a lot of time and will mean taking some risks, but whatever the case, I know I will withstand the impossible because there is a purpose in my life and I’m going to explore it.list2

Now you go and write my friends. I’ll be back on Friday sharing on how we should not take one moment for granted.

Beth

Affirmations

Affirmations

What does that word mean? According to Webster Dictionary, affirmation means:

1.   The act of affirming   or the state of being affirmed; assertion.

2.   Something declared to   be true; a positive statement or judgment.

3.   Law A solemn declaration given in place of   a sworn statement by a person who conscientiously objects to taking an oath.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

I am going to do something a little different with my blog for a couple of days, possibly weeks. I want to share my love of jotting down, doodling into your journal and downright writing to heal through some things that I’ve learned over the years. Today I especially want to share with you on how to affirm yourself. Do you have any affirmations about yourself and if you do, what do you personally do to remind yourself daily? I have my own personal affirmations that I’ve jotted down and purposely remind myself almost daily. Unfortunately my brain is wired to wrench myself down rather than boost myself up. Some people clip their list of affirmations to their refrigerator. I would totally miss the list as when I open the refrigerator door, only one thing is on my  mind, Yesterday’s left-over’s. So what do I do? I post my affirmations in two places. One is right at my desk. When I write, I tend to tell myself that I’m not good enough, no one will accept this proposal or query and I just don’t have what it takes. But now, when I look at my little list of affirmations, I begin to write from my soul, leaving it out there to inspire others.

This is my list. I am…

  • Kind                      loved
  • Special                  gifted
  • Forgiven               complete
  • Giving                   deserving
  • Whole                   rare

 

…Person

 

Now stop reading this blog for a few minutes and make your list. Go on. I’ll wait! Okay, now that you’ve made your list, now look at it and jot down or ask God… I am loved because…God sent His son Jesus to die for my sins. God has blessed me with kids that love me no matter what. God has blessed me with my mother who loves me unconditionally and God has given me a husband that affirms his love for me every day. I am loved because I love who I am, whom Christ has created me to be. This is NOT the time where you end your affirmation sentence with BUT…I’m impatient, opinionated bla bla bla…Expand on your goodness.

 

Until we accept the fact that life itself is founded in mystery we shall learn nothing. Henry Miller

Our lives are mysterious. We don’t know when we will cry, laugh, or be angry. What we can be sure of is that God’s love never ends for us. Please take some time today to keep looking at those affirmations. There is a category in my life now for certain things that I’ve come to accept. They are the items that are filled under the category of “things that are meant to be”. The number one thing that is mean to be is God’s love for me and my love for Him and others.

Tomorrow I will be writing about achieving the impossible. We all have had moments where we thought life itself was impossible. Life is full of mysteries and challenges. We will gather here at my blog https://firsthalfday1.wordpress.com and hopefully you will bring your pen and paper. I will share how to journal your thoughts on how to achieve your impossible. As for today, I would love to hear about how you remind yourself of your affirmations, your goodness and take your oath today that you will not go down the road of negatives.

Beth

Think Higher and Feel Deeper

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I tend to have a difficult time with being sick ESPECIALLY  over the weekend. Did I say that with anger? YES!!! I have so little time with my husband. When he’s home the last thing I want to be is SICK. I had the flu last Tuesday. I thought by the weekend I would be over it, but guess what? I was not. I felt okay on Saturday, but I had to work all day. Then Sunday I woke up feeling yucky again. Sigh!

When you are not feeling well or get sucked down, what do you do to pull yourself up? There was a quote by Elie Wiesel…”Think Higher and Feel Deeper.” His story is so precious in his memoir, Open Heart. It’s his spiritual story of how he at the age of eighty-two, faced emergency heart surgery and he reflects back on his own life. In his writing, in his teaching, and in his public life, he questions if he has done enough for mankind? He  shares his hope, despair, love, regrets and abiding faith.

I put myself on the couch while not feeling well and began to journal about the quote, “Think Higher and Feel Deeper.” I began to ask God what is the reason for my poor health right now? What is the reason for me having to be on the couch again? Why can’t I be up and about, living life the way God wants me to be living it? In that last question, I began to feel deeper and sobbed. I felt God soft whisper into my soul, “Beth you are living how I am having you live right now.” What does that mean? My journal unfolded page after page of hope and faith and reliance in God. I began to close my eyes and instead of feeling swept under by the ocean I started to feel the waves kiss my toes.

I no longer want to avoid the feelings that I feel during this season of my life. I want to dig deeper and feel my real self. I want to feel the sadness and loss of health and be okay with it. I want to use this time of digging and exploring to grow closer, to allow myself to unlock who I am. I do that by allowing myself to accept who I am right at this moment. My emotions are my feelings in motion. I cannot measure up to others expectations but only to my own.

Think Higher and Feel Deeper. This is good!

Psalm 41:12 NASB … As for me, You uphold me in my integrity, And You set me in Your presence forever.

 

NO CONTROL

 

I love Psalm 63; it is one of my favorites and I particularly like the way it reads in the HSCB Version. Starting in verse 1, “God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You. STOP!  – Do you eagerly seek God? Next line; “I thirst for You.” STOP! Do you thirst for Him? I sure did this week. I wish I could say that every day I earnestly seek Him; but sometimes I am so circumstantial or as Poppy Smith’s book title says, “I’m to Human to Be Like Jesus.” (Stay tuned to my review soon).

This week I had the stomach flu. On the first night, I had bad cramps and was crying out, “God, take this from me. I can’t handle it.” I was calling out, seeking and thirsting for Him. Why do I wait till times of trouble to call out? I should be calling out every day for our Nation; soldiers; economy; family etc. There are things happening all around us that need our prayers.

Since I’ve been diagnosed with this kidney disease, I have had to call out, trust and rely on God more than ever. I’m in an unknown place and since my diagnosis I have researched each medication, had consultations over and over again and the bottom line is that everyone’s body is different and that my body may react differently than someone else’s and I have to see just how it goes. See how it goes? I’m not a see-how-it-goes kind of gal!!! This is too weird for me. The medications, the side effects, the limitations; all so inconsistent! One day can be up and then next two can be down. My legs can be like balloons one day and more like oranges the next. The headaches come on then the next day, I’m feeling okay, so I take a walk and the leg cramps start in. I have NO control over any of this.  But one thing that I have had is God’s perfect consistent timing and provisions.

Four ways I’ve been able to see God working through this difficult season of my life are:

  1. Obvious answers to prayers
  2. Evidence of His Care
  3. Ability to continue to serve Him
  4. His perfect timing

Over and over again I have seen our financial obligations met; it has not been easy but the bills have been paid. I have received great care from the doctors’ but my Great physician has been with me every step of the way. Although there have been several down days, I have not given up on reaching out to others as He has asked me to. I pray for others and in being obedient to Him, He shows up over and over again to remind me that I can never become so discouraged that I can’t see the road in front of me.

Verse 4: So I will praise You as long as I live; at Your Name I will lift up my hands…I ask you, where have you seen God’s glory lately? Are you praising Him? Are you seeing Him work? Numbers 6:24

The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make his face shine upon you.

And be gracious to you:

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you.

And give you peace…

Come and chat with us on Living by Grace  living by gracehttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Living-by-Grace/208718449189065

JOY

Where does your joy come from?

There are days when my joy comes from my circumstances rather than my relationship with Jesus. Hey, I’m human. John 15:9-17 mainly speaks of the love we need to have for one another but in verse 11 Jesus says,” I have spoken these things to you so that MY joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”

The joy I spoke of earlier is circumstantial and that’s okay; God wants us to be joyous. However, there are certain points we must understand about joy; divine joy; coming from the Holy Spirit kind of joy.  Divine joy is a gift from God through His Holy Spirit which all believers have access to. It can only be produced by Him. It exists independently of our circumstances. Hard to grasp? Was for me too.

When I’m sick, or dealing with some financial struggles or issues with a co-worker or friend, what can I do to feel joy? What can you do when you are faced with your own adversity?

1) Focus on our relationship with Christ. Do you remember that the promise that our sins are washed away? Pray, get close and chat with God. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.        Holding Glasses over Bible

2) Meditate on the Word of God. Don’t just simply read it. Savor every word. It’s packed with promises.

3) Plant the seeds and serve the Lord. Go where He calls you to go. Be obedient to that and it will bring you spiritual joy. Don’t you just love giving to others? I do. I love Christmas when I can give to others in my family and in the community. Why not do that all year round? It doesn’t have to be of monetary gifts. What about holding the door for the elderly. Helping someone load groceries in their trunk or just staying positive in your work environment when things are very negative? We all have been called to help others. Seek your calling to serving.

4) See HIS transforming work in others. I belong to a small Women’s Bible Group and when we pray over each other, it is truly a joy to see how God answers those prayers and how He’s working in the lives of those you know or may not even know. He’s always working in lives to save them.

What a precious gift; the gift of joy. No matter what your circumstance is just breathe in joy, ponder the wonder of your new birth, receive the guidance from His Word; serve as God leads and watch as lives around you are changing. You will be filled with joy.

God, thank you for this day. Thank you for the joy you have given me just by knowing that You have every situation of my life in control. I pray for those who struggle with your supernatural joy that is a gift to them. I pray that they are able to put their trust in you today. Amen.

Clots in the Mind

We all have strengths and weaknesses that merge into our journey of life. Why do we feel we are not successful when we do not love?

Let’s explore some wise words as we walk towards spiritual growth. Notice I said walk, not run. Spiritual growth takes time; it doesn’t happen in a “microwave moment.” We don’t feel successful because we do not have love; the kind of love that allows God to control our hearts. “And now these three things remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1Cor: 13:13 NIV…This kind of love means that we are no longer to place ourselves before others; not easy right? If we take some time to look deep within our hearts, to the essence of self, we can truly break barriers of stagnation. If we ask the Holy Spirit to guide our hearts, then the words will follow.

Our lives need truth and order. I know I need to clear the clots of my mind daily and by spending time with God each day and enjoying the people around me, the friendly and the unfriendly, then, I will suddenly see the release in loving others through Christ. We can be set free of internal disturbances and restlessness, and conditions from harboring resentment which prevents us from love. How? Like I said earlier, it takes time. Love is not something our brains are wired to do without thinking first. But, by allowing daily intervention by the Holy Spirit, we will get there.

How do you love the unlovable? How do you place others before yourself? Do you want to live restless lives or living with resentment every day? I don’t know if this is for someone who needs to pick up the phone and call a loved one you’ve avoided or if you have a teen in your home that needs that unconditional hug even though they’ve broken many of the rules? If so, get down on your knees and ask the Holy One to enter and clear the clots from your mind.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable, who can understand it? I, Yahweh, examine the mind; I test the heart to give to each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve.” This is causing me to leave this page, get on my knees and ask God to clear the clots from my mind today and show me who needs my love. Won’t you join me?

Beth

living by grace

All Things Are Possible

 

Today, as another eight-hour work day approaches me, I realize the effort I make-however small, may be all I need to get through. I’m tired; sore and trying to keep on trekking along. The dissatisfaction I may feel today may be the positive change tomorrow. Hey that would be a real good slogan for those who are trying to diet.

I have to strive to stay in the positive of life’s changes. I may casually meet a person today that might become a good friend tomorrow. I can be a radiant loving person, like a breath of fresh air to others around me. How can I be this?  I can start by believing in God’s will for my life. My desires and actions, and HIS possibilities that are yet untold, can take me far beyond my dreams.

Today I strive to do as I’ve been instructed by my Father in heaven. Every small spark of activity towards God’s will for my life has the potential to become another light in me, waiting to shine. I want to shine for God; how about you?light through trees

I know that the day is here my friends; the day that everything that once seemed all wrong will be alright because I first surrendered all of my wrongness into HIS likeness.

The twists and turns in our lives are not to be feared. They’re simply new directions and new opportunities from God.

Jeremiah 29:11… For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

It’s Okay…

 

I read a quote today by Eleanor Roosevelt:

The purpose of life is to live it,

To taste experience to the utmost,

To reach out eagerly and without fear

For newer and richer experience.

I have lived a large portion of my life in fear of the unknown. Although I’ve gotten much stronger and less fearful, it sometimes creeps up and hits me when I least expect it. That’s when I have to sit and evaluate what is going on in my life.  Last night I had anxiety that lasted into this morning when I woke up. I knew why and I had to self talk myself out of a panic attack. I was frightened because one, I had to drive downtown to my kidney doctor appointment by myself and two, my husband would not be there with me during the appointment. He has been through this journey with me from the first diagnosis of Idiopathic Nephritic Syndrome.

It’s okay to be afraid of the things we don’t understand. It’s okay to feel anxious when things aren’t working our way and its okay to feel the fear. However, you don’t have to stay in that anxious feeling. Sometimes I am strong as an ox and yet other times I’m very weak. But today, I knew I had to do this. I had to take the trek downtown by myself and get to this appointment. It was time to talk to the doctor about the developing symptoms. It was time to talk about the future and ask the questions face to face that I scribbled onto my paper.

Although my husband was out-of-town, he stayed on the phone with me as he walked me down each highway, Side Street and bridge. (He’s a truck driver. I was in GREAT hands. My man knows his streets.) Once through my appointment which was all positive news, I was able to share it with him in the car parking lot and he guided me back home, even when I had to take a detour because I35 North was closed. He also told me, that he had been praying for me. Prayers were answered. Thank you.

I felt God saying, “Beth, the old ways will change and become new. The patterns that I wish to leave behind is left behind and that which I chose to take with me on this journey are neatly tucked away into my spiritual journey and taken along beside me as created precious memories. Trust in me and I will guide you into the precious future on step at a time.”

I pulled into the driveway, turned off the engine and text my family the good results. I then stopped for a moment, rested a spell and gathered my strength. I raised my head and praised God and refreshed my spirit. I was at that moment in perfect peace beside a quiet stream with my God Almighty who dwells there. The Spirit is waiting and watching today to bring power and enablement in answer t prayer to those who will submit their lives to God with a heart set to obey. This is the kind of person the Spirit desires to strengthen to accomplish the will of God.

Ask and it will be given to you;

seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8